Pretoria – The ANC has yet to comment on the backlash President Cyril Ramaphosa received from politicians and citizens who felt “embarrassed” that he proudly oversaw the tarring of a pothole on a dusty road in Mpumalanga at the weekend.
The Letsema campaign started in 2002 but lapsed over the years, until it was relaunched in Bloemfontein, Free State, in April in the run-up to the 2024 general elections, tipped to see the ANC winning less than 50% of the electoral vote.
On Saturday, video clips and photos were highly circulated on social media, which captured the embattled Ramaphosa hunched over a tar patch meant to seal a pothole on a gravel road.
Leader of One South Africa, Mmusi Maimane, took to Twitter, expressing utter dismay at the images. “We are now cutting ribbons for potholes. This is what happens when the money for maintaining roads has been looted. This is very embarrassing. With tar on a dirt road. A serious government would have built the people a road within 28 years. Not this wooden mic performance,” he wrote.
One Twitter user, Waltzing Matilda, lamented developments around the pothole. “These are the same (people) talking about super cities and bullet trains.”
Last week, Water and Sanitation Deputy Minister David Mahlobo was captured officiating (at) the handover of a tap to the community of Phola near Mpumalanga’s capital city, Mbombela.
The handover of the tap sparked social media outcry, resulting in Minister for Roads and Transport, Fikile Mbalula, making fun of Mahlobo and Ndlovu.
“I saw Mahlobo opening a tap with the chairperson of Mpumalanga. Here are the real projects, not taps that are hard to explain and they call it government delivery,” said Mbalula. He marked the completion of the R640 million Ring Road Infrastructure Project in Musina, Limpopo, which controls traffic into and out of Musina, linking to the Beit Bridge border with Zimbabwe.
Water and Sanitation Department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said the tap issue was blown out of proportion.
“It is shocking and most unfortunate that some who were nowhere near Makgarule and Phola on August 27 shared skewed, misleading information.
“It is the intention of the government to work with communities and inform them about whatever will be happening in their environments, which is what Minister Mahlobo, MEC Ndlovu, and councillors from Mbombela did.
ANC communication leaders were unavailable to comment on the tar patch. National spokesperson Pule Mabe did not reply to questions sent yesterday; the ANC in Mpumalanga was also unable to comment but referred to Ratau’s reply. Ndlovu too did not respond to questions.