Tan­nie loves Zuma

CityPress - - News - POLOKO TAU poloko.tau@city­press.co.za

The widely crit­i­cised plan by the North West govern­ment to erect a Ja­cob Zuma statue has been en­dorsed by an un­likely sup­porter of the pres­i­dent – an el­derly white woman and a na­tive of the con­ser­va­tive farm­ing town of Groot Marico.

Ina Fair­man (62) is not an ANC mem­ber, but she be­lieves Zuma is a “good man who de­serves recog­ni­tion” in the form of a pro­posed statue in her home town of Groot Marico.

“I have never and will never vote for the ANC. I have a party of my choice which I vote for, but I love Zuma. He is a source of in­spi­ra­tion and my sym­pa­thy for him is sparked ev­ery time his name is dragged in the mud ... The poor man de­serves a break, he re­ally does,” she lamented.

What brings Fair­man close to every­thing is that she is the owner of a plot where Zuma was held in a small po­lice cell in Groot Marico, fol­low­ing his ar­rest in the area 52 years ago.

She in­her­ited the plot from her late fa­ther with all the di­lap­i­dated po­lice sta­tion build­ings, in­clud­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion sec­tion, charge of­fices, kitchen, a four-roomed house and a bar­racks which she said were once oc­cu­pied by black of­fi­cers back in the apartheid days.

Even though Fair­man has re­spect for Zuma, she said she would be “greatly dis­ap­pointed” if he en­dorsed the con­struc­tion of an ex­pen­sive statue in her im­pov­er­ished town that has not seen much ser­vice de­liv­ery.

“A sim­ple but re­mark­able plaque will do in the name of pre­serv­ing his­tory,” said the old dame, adding that she was even will­ing to “give up [a por­tion of her own yard] where he was kept a pris­oner in his honour. But I won’t be happy if mil­lions go into a statue that would not ben­e­fit lo­cals much,” Fair­man em­pha­sised.

She said she only learnt last year that the old po­lice sta­tion’s premises she calls home once im­pris­oned Zuma.

“For a herd boy from the ru­ral KwaZulu-Natal who dropped out of school at pri­mary level to be an ac­tivist and who got him­self ed­u­cated in prison to then be­came a pres­i­dent of a coun­try, I re­spect him,” Fair­man said.

“It can’t al­ways be that ev­ery blame lands on his head when­ever some­thing goes wrong. His name is be­ing dragged in the mud for mis­takes done by those who work un­der him. Surely Zuma can’t be every­where to watch guard over ev­ery­one,” she said. She said it was also “not fair for peo­ple to op­pose every­thing just be­cause it has Zuma’s name at­tached to it”, like the pro­posed statue.

Mean­while, de­spite all the crit­i­cism and op­po­si­tion from the pub­lic and other po­lit­i­cal par­ties, the North West govern­ment in­sisted that it was push­ing ahead with the statue.

Ear­lier re­ports es­ti­mated the statue would cost the prov­ince about R6 mil­lion, but Premier Supra Mahumapelo has since ex­plained there were costs that were not yet de­ter­mined as the process was still at an open-ten­der bid­ding stage.

How­ever, the ten­der ad­ver­tise­ment had called on po­ten­tial bid­ders for the “sculp­ture’s de­sign, man­u­fac­tur­ing and in­stal­la­tion of a 6m life­like bronze statue and plaque” of Zuma.

Just hours be­fore a mar­quee was blown off by the storm while Zuma was de­liv­er­ing his Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Day speech in Zeerust in De­cem­ber, a low-key brief cer­e­mony was held where Mahumapelo turned sod in Groot Marico, along the N4 where the ANC leader’s pro­posed statue is planned to be erected.

It was not clear whether the place where the sod-turn­ing cer­e­mony was held was the ex­act site where Zuma, aged 21 at the time, was cap­tured in June 1963. He and 45 Umkhonto weSizwe re­cruits were try­ing to skip the coun­try for Botswana.

Fair­man said it was com­mon knowl­edge in the town that Zuma was ar­rested down the street from the po­lice sta­tion, which is her home to­day. The statue is planned to be erected about 1km from the old po­lice sta­tion.

PHOTO: POLOKO TAU

Groot Marico res­i­dent Ina Fair­man stand­ing on the grounds of an old po­lice sta­tion where she said Ja­cob Zuma was in­car­cer­ated af­ter his ar­rest in the area more than five decades ago

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