IN PICTURES | Residents divided over R1.8-million Jacob Zuma monument

05 October 2017 - 10:31 By Boitumelo Tshehle
The official opening of the Groot Marico Heritage Site and Liberation Heritage Route of the Bokone Bophirima Province on 4 October 2017.
The official opening of the Groot Marico Heritage Site and Liberation Heritage Route of the Bokone Bophirima Province on 4 October 2017.
Image: GCIS

Residents of Groot Marico in North West, where President Jacob Zuma unveiled a R1.8-million monument, believe the money could have been used to develop the area.

Although locals came out in large numbers to the event yesterday, some of the residents said alot could have been done to develop the town and not only the site.

The area where Zuma was arrested forms part of the Liberation Heritage Route, where activists crossed as they went into exile to continue the struggle against apartheid and colonialism.

"It's a good thing that they want to attract tourists to our farming town, but what will those tourists say if they see us poor like this," said one of the residents Martha Seleka.

President Jacob Zuma unveiling the statue at the Groot Marico Heritage Site and Liberation Heritage Route of the Bokone Bophirima Province, on 4 October 2017.
President Jacob Zuma unveiling the statue at the Groot Marico Heritage Site and Liberation Heritage Route of the Bokone Bophirima Province, on 4 October 2017.
Image: GCIS

Another resident, Sello Morake, said government should have focused more on developing the town before building a monument.

He said children still walked many kilometres to schools because they do not have one in the township.

"They [children] cross a dangerous railway line. I wish that our government could have at least built us a school before this monument.

The President Jacob Zuma Site of Arrest, which forms part of the Liberation Heritage Route of the Bokone Bophirima Province.
The President Jacob Zuma Site of Arrest, which forms part of the Liberation Heritage Route of the Bokone Bophirima Province.
Image: Tiro Ramatlhatse

Other residents celebrated the site as a "blessing".

"If tourists come here, they will bring us money, they will improve the economy of our area, I am happy that the monument was built here," Dikgang Setlholoeng said.

Police dispersed a group of people - believed to be EFF members - who tried to disrupt the event by picketing outside the marquee where Zuma spoke.

Zuma unveiled the site, named after him, with an obelique that has a structure of his head at the top.

President Jacob Zuma opened the President Jacob Zuma Site of Arrest, which forms part of the Liberation Heritage Route of the Bokone Bophirima Province, on 4 October 2017. on 4 October 2017.
President Jacob Zuma opened the President Jacob Zuma Site of Arrest, which forms part of the Liberation Heritage Route of the Bokone Bophirima Province, on 4 October 2017. on 4 October 2017.
Image: GCIS

According to culture, arts, and traditional affairs MEC Ontlametse Mochwari the oblique symbolised Zuma and other Struggle stalwarts who were arrested in Groot Marico in June 1963.

The six-metre long bronze oblique is surrounded by eight walls depicting Zuma's political life. The site also has an art collection centre, a cultural village, waterfall and kgotla.

Zuma said there was a lot that needed to be done in terms of economic transformation in the area.

He told residents that even though he was left with about two months as president of the ANC, and a year-and-five months as the country's president, he will fight for socio-economic transformation.

Veterans attending the official opening of the Groot Marico Heritage Site and Liberation Heritage Route of the Bokone Bophirima Province on 4 October 2017.
Veterans attending the official opening of the Groot Marico Heritage Site and Liberation Heritage Route of the Bokone Bophirima Province on 4 October 2017.
Image: GCIS

- SowetanLIVE

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