Zuma a ‘visionary leader’ – Magashule
A visit to an Eskom pumped power facility in the Drakensberg near Ladysmith by President Jacob Zuma was turned into a second term campaign rally by his supporters from KwaZulu-Natal and Free State.
Zuma, who arrived several hours late today, was accompanied by the heavy hitters in his Cabinet: Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize and Free State Premier Ace Magashule.
Ahead of his arrival, several hundred guests from government and Eskom burst into songs praising the president and his leadership and calling for him to serve a second term.
Participants made the two-fingered salute associated with the second term campaign. A beaming Zuma finally arrived after a visit to the project’s underground pump station.
Peters praised Zuma for delivery on his promise to build sustainable energy and said that, in terms of his “own ambitions”, the “best is still to come”.
Gigaba trumpeted the achievements of the Zuma administration, listing the changes in HIV/Aids policy, the creation of the New Growth Path, the creation of infrastructure programmes and job creation.
He attributed these successes to Zuma’s leadership.
Gigaba said Zuma had been a “tough taskmaster” for his Cabinet members responsible for infrastructure and other projects aimed at improving the standard of living of ordinary South Africans.
Magashule joined the ranks of the Zuma praise singers, saying that when Zuma became leader, he was the first president to identify the need for long-term planning.
“Since 1994 we had been planning ad hoc. You came in with your visionary leadership, not planning for five years, but talking 2030 and 2050. What a visionary leader,” Magashule said.
“We have full confidence in your leadership because you said when you came in with your collective that rural development is important. It is not only urban people who are happy, it is all South Africans, even those who stay away,” he added.
“You have given hope to these so-called marginalised towns. What a wonderful thing. We still need your leadership in the future.”
Zuma’s speech focused on highlighting the successes of his administration in infrastructure provision as a means of improving the quality of people’s lives.
He said the project was a significant part of his government’s infrastructure development programme and that his administration was impressed with Eskom’s attempts to upgrade South Africa’s power stations to generate supply to meet household consumption and industrial demand.
Zuma said the electricity roll out since 1994 to even the most rural areas had greatly improved the lives of ordinary South Africans, an important milestone of a series of ANC administrations.
He said the nation’s economic growth depended on the improvement of electricity and other infrastructure in rural and urban areas and was central to the National Development Plan and the New Growth Path.
“We are working hard to improve energy efficiency. It was necessary to take a long-term view about the supply of electricity. We do not want to reach a stage where people begin to doubt our energy capacity.
Our investments in energy security are in the national interest,” he said.
More than R340 billion would be spent on new electricity infrastructure, including completing existing projects and new energy projects.
Zuma said the nation’s infrastructure plan would change people’s lives in very real ways, creating 40 000 job opportunities in the electricity roll out alone.
“The ultimate goal should be to ensure that every household in South Africa has electricity despite their status in society,’’ he said. “That is a simple but very key developmental goal.”
“I am optimistic that we are getting somewhere now. We are a country at work. Some people may not see that, but it is a reality,’’ he said.