Zille challenges Zuma to visit stinky Free State town

African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma should face the people of the Matjhabeng municipality where raw sewage flows through the streets, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille said on Monday.

“I challenge Zuma to come to Matjhabeng and face the people ... today I visited Odendaalsrus and Welkom in the ANC-run Matjhabeng municipality in the Free State, where a river of raw sewage flows through the streets.

“The stench is unbearable and people are getting sick. The town is becoming unfit for human habitation,” Zille said in a statement.

The DA leader said Zuma had spoken out against corruption recently and about holding public representatives accountable.

If he was serious about “ushering in a new era of accountability and toughness on corruption”, he should visit the two towns and “face” the people who were forced to live under the conditions there.

The sewerage treatment plant in the municipality had collapsed in 2008.

An R8-million tender was then issued to a ungraded contractor who had neither the equipment nor the expertise to do the job “in a crony deal”, Zille alleges.

“Two months later the contractor disappeared with R2-million already paid to him,” she said.

“... [Zuma] should come to Odendaalsrus and Welkom and face the people who live in these conditions. He must explain to them why they are forced to live in this way.

“He should speak to the ANC mayor and ward councillors and hold them to account for the sewage that runs through the streets,” she said.

“This is my challenge for Zuma. If he really has the interests of the people of South Africa at heart, he will come to Matjhabeng to see the effects of the closed, crony system for himself.”

Zille said Zuma did not care about the people of South Africa, his priority was to “avoid facing his corruption trial and to ensure that his cronies, like Schabir Shaik, are looked after”.

She added that there were other towns across the country, such as Odendaalsrus and Welkom, which proved that corruption made poor people poorer.—Sapa

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