Zuma visits S.African shantytown

March 19, 2010 12:00 am

, JOHANNESBURG, Mar 19 – South African President Jacob Zuma visited a shantytown outside Johannesburg on Friday where he vowed to make good on his election pledges to improve basic public services.

"We are going to start work. I am here today to say we\’re going to fulfill the promises of government," said Zuma, speaking in Zulu, as thousands of people turned out to see him in the Madelakufa squatter camp.

Zuma had made a surprise visit to Madelakufa four months ago to see first-hand the squalid conditions and lack of sanitation and electricity at the informal settlement, part of Tembisa township east of Johannesburg.

Accompanying the president this time were several cabinet ministers — including those in charge of energy, public works, and social development — whom he introduced to the residents.

"Those things you are complaining about, these people are responsible," he said, as the ministers promised water for 100 houses by November, a new police station, and new housing for people now living in shacks and tents.

Zuma ran for the presidency on promises to improve the lives of the 43 percent of South Africans who live in poverty, in a country with the world\’s biggest gap between rich and poor.

Since taking office in May, residents of South Africa\’s poorest neighbourhoods have staged sporadic but often violent protests demanding housing and better services.

Zuma\’s visit to Madelakufa was part of three weeks of "monitoring and evaluation visits" during which he is promising to tackle problems with the delivery of government services.


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