Poverty underlay Marikana: Zuma
14 September 2012
The Marikana tragedy had highlighted the continuing deep levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality in South Africa, while emphasising the need to speed up transformation of the country's mining sector, President Jacob Zuma said in Cape Town on Thursday.
Forty-four people were killed, including two police officers, during clashes between striking Lonmin platinum mine workers and the police in Marikana, North West province last month. Zuma has appointed a judicial commission of inquiry to probe the incident.
Responding to questions in Parliament on Thursday, Zuma said South Africans should wait for the findings of the commission of inquiry on Marikana before making judgments on how the shooting had taken place.
Opportunism 'threatens to set country back'
South Africans should also put the country first, and defend it from any opportunism that threatened to set the nation back by many years, he said.
"It is absolutely important to note that a very big tragedy happened and that we don't know the actual details and it is important therefore to wait for the commission to establish facts and the commission must give a report and recommendations," Zuma said.
The terms of reference for the commission were gazetted on Thursday and work is continuing to sort out the logistical arrangements to enable the commission to begin its work.
Zuma said the government continued to support the families of all 44 people who were killed in Marikana through the inter-ministerial committee led by the Minister of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Collins Chabane.
'More, better schools than ever before in SA'
In reply to a question about what progress the country had made in improving education, Zuma said there were more and better facilities in schools than at any other time in the country, and that more children were at schools than ever before.
The country was also on track to meet its target of 100% of children in Grade R by 2014 - the Grade R enrolment having increased from 300 000 in 2003 to more than 700 000 by last year.
He said the government had identified and classified several schools as no-fee schools, and that over eight-million children were now in no-fee schools.
The implementation of the Annual National Assessment tests for the first time last year would help the country to more objectively assess the health of the education system, he said.
He added that he had received a report from the presidential task team, led by Deputy Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, on the problems around delivery of textbooks in Limpopo province.
He said he was considering the report and would indicate his response in due course.
Funding for centre in Nkandla
In reply to a question from the Parliamentary leader of the opposition, Lindiwe Mazibuko, on whether he had instructed his minister to provide funding for the Nkandla-Mlalazi Smart Growth Centre, Zuma said he had not instructed ministers to provide funding for the centre.
"The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is, however, supporting the Masibambisane Rural Development Initiative with the detailed planning of the Nkandla initative," he said.
Zuma said it was a pity that only Nkandla and the construction of the centre there had generated interest, because Nkandla was not the only rural district being developed by the government.
In all, 23 rural districts across various provinces were receiving interventions to combat deep poverty, including the construction of recreational areas, creches, schools, clinics, community halls, shopping centres and other facilities to assist rural communities.
These projects, he said, were the same size as that of the Nkandla project.
Among the projects detailed by Zuma are those Dysseldorp in the Western Cape, where 10 sandbag houses are being built, 90 rainwater harvesting tanks set up, solar water geysers supplied to homes, while a creche and old-age home is being built and five schools are being renovated.
In Diyatalawa and Makholokoeng in the Free State, the government was building schools, creches, a community hall, solar geysers, housing, two clinics and a dairy, Zuma said.