Residents of Groot Marico have expressed concern over the cost of a monument of former President Jacob Zuma, noting that the money should have been used to uplift the community instead.
The small town of Groot Marico is one of the oldest farming towns situated next to the N4 between Rustenburg and Zeerust.
The erstwhile Premier of North West, Supra Mahumapelo, stunned the country when he announced that his office was planning to erect a monument in honour of former President Jacob Zuma. Many people opposed the idea, including opposition parties. Mahumapelo is known to be a close ally of Zuma.
The monument cost taxpayers the exorbitant amount of R1.8 million and was officially unveiled by Zuma himself on 4 October 2017. There was a huge presence of police during the unveiling, as many people threatened to do away with that monument as they believed that it was insignificant as it was not going to improve the lives of the people in any way.
Political Analysis South Africa (PASA) visited the area on Friday, 1 March 2019. We were told that there was no tour guide and that that activity is the responsibility of a security personnel. The security works around the clock because of members of the community’s threats to demolish the monument. There is a community hall inside the area of the monument, which residents use without paying much attention to the monument.
Mahumapelo argued at the time of the monument’s erection that Groot Marico was going to flourish economically as they would be attracting potential tourists. There has been no evidence of any tourist activity to date.
Rorisang Mogapi, who is in his late 30s, is a community activist and says that the money could have been used to develop the area, before the monument could be considered. He believes that the R1.8 million could have helped the community to improve the roads, build schools and develop the water and sanitation facilities in the area, as they are still drawing water from the river while they have this monument, which is not improving the community in any way.
”The community were made to believe that the existence of the monument would improve the dire economic situation but it did not, the only thing which has happened after the unveiling was employment for a few security guards. There are no admins or tour guides as promised. Many residents have lost hope in government because they make promises during elections but never implement them,” Mogapi said.
The six-metre-long monument is also surrounded by eight walls illustrating Zuma’s political profile.