Now I understand the service delivery protests, says Zuma
President Jacob Zuma says revelations that an ANC-run municipality had built open toilets for the poor broke his heart and he "now understands" why communities protest.
Speaking to the Sunday Times as he wrapped up campaigning in the Eastern Cape on Friday, Zuma said his door-to-door electioneering in some of the country's poorest communities over the past three months had exposed an ugly side of South Africa that government officials did not mention in their service-delivery reports to him.
But it was the 1600 open toilets built by the ANC-controlled Moqhaka municipality in the Free State that shocked him the most.
"Of all the stories pertaining to service delivery that I came across during campaigning, the open-toilets saga broke my heart," Zuma said.
The president, who will today address the ruling party's final election rally at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, said the shocking living conditions in some of the areas he visited had opened his eyes.
"I have seen the coalface of service delivery. The report from officials sometimes may not give the same feeling that you get when you come into contact with the real conditions people live in.
"I now understand why some communities protest. A lot has been done to deliver services, but clearly there are serious challenges and backlogs," he said.
He cited living conditions in Kanana informal settlement, which falls under the DA-run Cape Town metro, saying the area had no running water, toilets or electricity.
"If, as a freedom fighter, this is what we fought for, I don't agree.
"We cannot afford to have families living like pigs or chickens."
He said he was already in discussion with the Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation, Collins Chabane, about his department taking on the role of policing delivery at municipal level.
"I want intervention on non-performing municipalities to happen timeously."
Addressing a rally in Port Elizabeth's Zwide township, Zuma said he was confident of victory in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro and Cape Town.
"If you do not vote for the ANC, who are you going to vote for?
"Do not throw away your votes to people who just want power. What will they do for you?"
At a meeting with young professionals at the Sandton Convention Centre on Friday night, Zuma said the ANC was prepared to investigate allegations of manipulation of candidates' lists after the elections, but would not entertain complaints about women candidates.
"One of (our decisions) was to affirm women into positions. So, even if you are a good councillor, if you have to be removed to give space to a woman, that is what we did.
"We are not going to reconsider those cases. Those are cases we took politically."