Free houses make SA lazy - Zuma
President Jacob Zuma has admitted that distribution of free low-cost houses was not sustainable and creating a culture of laziness and dependency.
Zuma said he wished he were a dictator so that he could reverse his government's policy on the provision of some of the service delivery amenities.
This would end the tendency "to fantasise" about democracy, the wanton abuse of freedom and the propensity to make exaggerated demands from the state.
"People don't want to work because they are free. Sometimes I wonder when people complain about things they can do themselves," Zuma said yesterday in addressing the SA Local Government Association national assembly in Midrand.
Zuma's statement is a surprise turnabout and a radical departure from government policy and may cause awkwardness in an election lead-up.
The president has consistently held up low-cost houses and social grants as among the government's achievements.
His administration has also come in for a beating from the opposition, who complain of abuse of state resources for electioneering by dishing out food parcels.
Zuma was in a mean mood yesterday, warning that the government's approach to service delivery was counterproductive as it was eroding the culture of self-reliance.
The president likened such people to a man sitting under a mango tree, waiting for the fruit to drop instead of climbing up to pluck the fruit.
"I thought that by this time we would have changed the manner we do things and begin to make ourselves participate in our own development," Zuma said.
Last October, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said anyone younger than 40 would not get a free house because the government was "receiving a lot of flak" for not providing free houses.
"You (young people) have lost nothing (to apartheid)," Sisulu said at the time.
Yesterday, Zuma suggested that he was constrained from doing away with giving away free RDP houses.
"If I was a dictator, I would change a few things, but this is democracy. In democracy, you can say whatever you want... I am lazy to build a house (and can ask) where is my house I have been waiting for 10 years, 20 years," he said to applause from delegates.
"If I was a dictator... I would make everyone understand that rights go with responsibility.
"Some of the problems we have are exaggerated... You know we complain about poverty, and we walk on the land which is ready to produce food, and (yet) we complain that we are hungry. Don't you see this as a problem?"
He said this did not absolve municipalities from blame when it came to service delivery.
"It's not a one-sided problem because our councillors must understand that we are serving the people."