JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African police prevented the country’s main opposition leader from using a public road leading to President Jacob Zuma’s house in his home village on Sunday, citing safety concerns.
South African media have reported the government plans to spend some 250 million rand ($28.61 million) on President Jacob Zuma’s home village, angering the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) which had wanted to deliver letters from school children who lack textbooks, to illustrate where money should be spent.
Police in riot gear turned back DA leader Helen Zille and a small group of supporters on their way to inspect Zuma’s residence in the village of Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal province.
“We will not allow the ANC to declare certain areas ”no-go zones“ in our country,” Zille said in a statement after filing a complaint against Zuma’s ruling African National Congress for blocking a public road.
The ruling ANC, which has been in power since the end of white minority rule in 1994, is often accused of corruption by opposition parties such as the DA, with funds from the national budget not always reaching the intended millions who continue to live in poverty 18 years after the advent of democracy.
But Nelson Mandela’s 100 year-old party continues to enjoy mass support, securing more than 60 percent of the vote in all four national elections since 1994.
Police said they could not allow Zille to pass on Sunday due to concerns for her own safety as there were angry ANC members waiting for her next to Zuma’s home.
Zille’s DA has its origins as the liberal, anti-apartheid party among whites before 1994, but has started to make inroads with the electorate, growing to 24 percent of the vote in local elections in May this year and becoming the main opposition party.
The DA said it would give Zuma’s administration 72 hours to release information on the funding of the projects in Nkandla before going to court. The president’s spokesman responded by saying Zille was “just looking for publicity.”
($1 = 8.7387 South African rand)
Reporting by Xola Potelwa; Editing by Jon Hemming