Tannie loves Zuma
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.
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