Zuma responds to ANC critics

Zuma was addressing a rally ,on Friday organised by the SA Unemployed Workers Union (Sauwu) in East London, the Weekend Post reported.

"People are saying this but it is untrue," he told a packed house at the Orient Theatre.

The president also criticised people who said South Africa's poverty and wealth gap had widened since the ruling party took over in 1994.

"No one in the country knew how big the gap was before 1994 …  we discovered it, so how can they say something else," he said.

However, Zuma said the gap had decreased through grants and black economic empowerment.

Increased not lessened
"Fifteen million people have been taken out of poverty … so it is not true."

But Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University political analyst Jolene Steyn-Kotze said Zuma's statement was more of an opinion.

She said comparisons needed to be made between 2001, 2004 and 2012 to get an accurate picture or where the country was in terms of the income gap and inequality.

"My suspicion is that the gap has actually increased and not lessened," she said.

"A small percent of people control the wealth globally. South Africa cannot be an exception to that."

She made an example of Marikana where the income gap between the management and miners was big.

Growing corruption
Of Zuma's statements that the ANC was not corrupt she said the party was well aware that the general elections were coming up and Zuma wanted to win favour with the workers.

"The transparency index, which measures corruption across the world, shows that corruption in South Africa is in fact growing and that we are actually close to Zimbabwe in terms of the state corruption. Since Zuma has taken power, the corruption index has increased."

United Democratic Movement (UDM) provincial chairperson Mongameli Bobani said the party was wondering what the basis of Zuma's statement on the wealth discrepancy was.

"Everyone, including the workers, knows that the gap is far too big … if the president is promoting that the gap is not big then the UDM has a problem with that.

"We feel that the president is undermining the living conditions of South Africa. People in South Africa are becoming more and more poor and the rich are becoming richer."  

Meanwhile, Zuma also used the rally to announce the creation of an extended Community Works Programme in the province.

For the people
"Through this 600 people will get work," he said.

Zuma said Bizana, Port St Johns, Coffee Bay, Mthatha Mouth, Hamburg, Hole-in-the-Wall and Kidds Beach would benefit from the extended programme.

"The Community Works Programme has been designed to create a safety net for the unemployed workers."

He said members of Sauwu would benefit directly from the projects and that by 2013, 3 500 people would be registered with the programme.

The jobs through the programme would include tourism officials and coastal rangers. The coastal rangers would be trained in areas such as life saving and public safety.

"This is for the people. But we might not be able to do everything in one day," Zuma said. – Sapa

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