The wrong Mr Zuma is running the country. Alfred Zuma, from Mpophomeni, has all the qualities of a good president. He has dignity, common sense, a great work ethic, good manners, a ready smile, a sense of responsibility and respect for the earth and people.
This Mr Zuma heads up one of the DUCT River Care teams and is responsible for the banks of the uMngeni between Midmar Dam wall and the Howick Falls. Last year, DUCT funding dried up, but with his friend Jabulani Nene, Alfred voluntarily continued to clear litter from the trash boom in his canoe every week.
Alfred has been involved with water and waste water since the 1970’s and takes great pride in his work. Not only clearing invasive alien vegetation, but all the garbage people chuck over the banks. It’s unbelievable what people toss, in the hope that it will magically go away. “There is no away. We must teach everyone. The polystyrene boxes from takeaway chips are the worst,” he says. Recently, his team have pulled six big bales of clothes out of the river. They have put them out in the sun to dry and will be donating them to those in need.
“People see the water running and think it is ok, but you can’t drink it. I tell them the human body is made up of water and we must make sure there is water for future generations.” He encouraged his youngest son, Londa to volunteer with the River Care team during school holidays, to learn about the work they do and contribute to ensuring our water resources are protected. Londa is now employed as part of the team.
Landowners concerned with the riparian areas on their properties, have hired the team over weekends to assist and been most impressed. Margie Pretorius comments “Mr Zuma was a pleasure to communicate with, completely reliable and thorough. He and his staff have a real passion for their work.”
On weekends, Alfred loves to head out on Breakfast Runs with the Abangani Motorcycle Club, on his beloved ‘mfazi mnyama’ – a Suzuki GS 1000. “I love the bends of the R103,” he says with a grin. With fellow bikers, he enjoys going to rallies in Swaziland and the Eastern Cape. “We pack up the trailer with camping gear and our bikes and off we go.” The Club regularly makes donations to charities in Mpophomeni and kwaChief.
Alfred has dreams of creating a new path along the banks of the uMngeni River from the bridge to Mills Falls. He has picked out the perfect picnic spot beneath Acacia sieberiana trees already! Perhaps it will be called Zuma Park?
He believes that people will be less likely to discard rubbish if they have access to the river and can see how lovely it is. He will also be working with Mpophomeni Conservation Group to clear a path along the banks of the uMthinzima and uMhlanga to encourage more residents to stroll beside the streams and take pride in keeping the area litter free. “My wife and I like to take walks in the evenings, so it will be my pleasure to make these paths in the place where we live.”
Alfred Zuma is certainly making a difference in his community, never mind to the millions of downstream users of the uMngeni River.