President Jacob Zuma. File photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma is correct in saying the ANC government has achieved a lot in 18 years, while apartheid is to blame for delivery backlogs, the presidency said on Tuesday.

“There is a running narrative in the media that government has not achieved anything in 18 years,” the presidency said in a statement.

“Any statement by government pointing out progress made is received with cynicism and hysteria, as it goes against the dominant script.”

On Monday, Zuma told the SA Local Government Association's (Salga) special national conference in Midrand that South Africa had achieved far more in 18 years in terms of service delivery than any other country in Africa.

Non-delivery of services often had to do with problems inherited from apartheid, when large parts of the country had no form of local government, he said.

On Tuesday, the presidency said both these statements were factual.

“The president stands by every word and will repeat what he said at any given time.

“South Africa should not be forced into amnesia with regards to the experiences of the past, and the president will not be party to the apartheid denialism that is being promoted.”

The presidency did not explain to which media reports it was referring.

Zuma said there had been “almost no local government system for black people before 1994, and no investment had been made in ensuring the economic or social viability of black residential areas before 1994”.

“Part of the problem in finding ways to overcome the racist spatial configuration of services and facilities as well as underdevelopment... is the denial of the magnitude and impact of apartheid,” the presidency said.

It said this denial prevented South Africans from understanding the challenges faced by the country, the progress made and what still needed to be done.

“This will not stop the president or government from communicating the progress made, and to point out as well the challenges that remain.” - Sapa