Presidency hits back at Pityana 'insults'

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pretoria - The Presidency on Wednesday said it was disappointed by what it described as "unfortunate utterances" attributed to former UNISA vice-chancellor, Dr Barney Pityana, during the Neil Aggett Memorial Lecture.

"Some of the comments attributed to Dr Pityana stoop way below dignified public discourse and intellectual engagement. They are not worth repeating save to caution once again that disagreements are welcome in a democratic society, but should take place within the bounds of common human decency without promoting a culture of hurling insults," the Presidency said in a statement.

It said some of the utterances by Pityana were incorrect and misleading.

"For example, Dr Pityana repeats the tale that government is building a new city in Nkandla, the emphasis being that the village is apparently the only one that receives attention from government. This is incorrect."

According to media reports, Pityana told the lecture that South Africans needed to take responsibility for the country's failures because they elected leaders without vision and basic competence. "We must blame nobody but ourselves for the tragedy of our education system, a collapsing health care system, a bloated but inefficient civil service, pervasive crime, and corruption that has become endemic," Pityana was quoted as saying.

He accused government of prioritising development in Nkandla, the hometown of President Jacob Zuma.

But in its response, the Presidency said the Nkandla smart growth centre will form part of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government's programme of the revival of small rural towns and the formalisation of rural unplanned towns and urban settlements. The towns include Ndumo, Manguzi, Msinga, Mbumbulu, Nkandla, Charlestown, Jozini, Ngwavuma, Dududu, Weenen and Colenso.

At national level, Nkandla is one of 23 districts that have been identified by government for interventions due to deep levels of poverty, scientifically established through thorough investigation.

Some of the progress made already in these districts in projects run by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is as follows:

- In Diyatalawa and Makholokoeng, the Free State provincial government is building community infrastructure such as schools, cräches, a community hall, solar geysers, housing, two clinics and a dairy.
- In Masia in Limpopo, a multipurpose facility is being built.
- In Jacobsdal in the Free State, a multi-purpose community complex is being planned. It will include a cräche and a village viewing area. The upgrading of the Ratanang Stadium is underway.
- In Goedgedacht, in the Western Cape, government is building a Rural Leadership Youth Centre that will provide aftercare for small children and leadership for youth. The Department of Rural Development is also in the process of purchasing an adjacent farm to develop amongst other things a blacksmith museum and tourist centre, restaurant, market and to develop Agri-village for the current farm residents.
- In Beaufort West, in the Western Cape, sports and recreational facilities for the youth will be built.
- In Mbashe in the Eastern Cape, government is working with the local community and the traditional authority to develop a master plan for development projects, especially focusing on tourism and agriculture.
- In Ludondolo in the Eastern Cape, the focus is on infrastructure development. In July, President Zuma visited the area to assess progress with the building of the Dalibhunga bridge in Mvezo and a 10km access road that is currently under construction. The river valley catalytic project has also been started in the village. In addition, land is being prepared for community agricultural practices.
- In Limpopo, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is working with the Sekhukhune District Municipality in planning a rural node similar in size and scope to the Umlalazi-Nkandla Smart Growth Centre, for the Jane Furse township. It is envisaged that this development will consist of government offices, recreational park, schools, a cräche, a shopping complex, clinic and sports facilities.
- In Mayflower in Mpumalanga, government is revitalising the town through the provision of infrastructure such as a bridge, road paving, upgrading of the sewer amongst others.
- In Dysselsdorp in the Western Cape, revitalisation projects include 10 sandbag houses, 90 rainwater harvesting tanks, a cräche, five renovated schools, an old age home as well as solar geysers to the home.
- In Witzenberg in the Western Cape, government is building a walkway and recreational area for the youth. In addition, phase two is underway and includes the development of a community area and swimming pool, houses for older persons, a cräche and the upgrading of the sewer system.

There were various other rural development projects by other government departments nationally and provincially in various rural towns and villages.

"We wish to emphasise that no government funds have been committed specifically to the Nkandla Mlalazi Smart Growth initiative."

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform developed a model of the smart centre to showcase the concept of green development. The model was on exhibition during the United Nations COP 17 conference held in Durban last year. That is the only expenditure on the town.

No other departments have made commitments or have been asked to make commitments to the delivery of facilities and infrastructure on the site. The development of Nkandla would continue as part of the revitalisation of rural towns project, similar to other areas without any preferential treatment.