While sitting in press briefings by political parties running the capital city, I often walk out with one thing on my mind – these people actually don’t care about us.
I am a Tshwane resident. I grew up in the streets of Mabopane, occasionally visiting family in Hammanskraal and moving to Centurion with my parents in the late ’90s while it was still called Verwoerdburg.
Playing in the streets of “Lebop” I witnessed the slow dilapidation of the famous sports ground which was in our backyard – the Odi stadium. Under Bophutatswana rule, every weekend was eventful, from shows to Kaizer Chiefs matches when vuvuzelas would roar in the streets.
Visiting my grandmother and her sisters in the rural Marokolong and Kwadubeng villages of “Hammitown”, my young mind could not understand why we had to scoop water from metal barrels in the backyard to wash our hands. Back in Mabopane and Centurion, you just turned on a tap.
“My granny didn’t have electricity several years ago, but now they do. I am pretty sure they will get clean water soon. This water tastes like mud,” I’d say to myself while taking a gulp of the warm water sitting in the sun.
My 10-year-old mind had no idea that nearly two decades later I would still walk to the backyard of my grandmother’s house for the same commodity. I did not imagine that 24 years into democracy, I would still walk 100m to use the toilet behind my grandmother’s marula tree.
But this is all the Democratic Alliance’s fault, we’re told. You see, electioneering and politicking has been taken up a notch. The ANC has elections to win and a metro to regain. The DA has a point to prove while the Economic Freedom Fighters in Tshwane only act when leader Julius Malema says so.
These parties, their leaders and members are not stupid. The insulting part is that they think we are. The ANC were shocked at the loss of the capital to the DA and allied parties. But since their regional conference in July, the Thuma Mina brigade is starting to look desperate. According to our liberation movement, the reason why my grandmother still uses a pit toilet is because of the DA, who have been governing the city for two years. They think we forgot the role they played prior to 2016.
The DA-led administration has also come under fire for appointing unqualified people. The bodybuilder Stefan de Villiers is still earning over a million to remind mayor Solly Msimanga of his appointments while his chief of emergency services, Previn Govender, recently went on a work trip to China with his allegedly fake qualification. “But the ANC did the same thing,” Msimanga confidently said on radio.
And the red-berets seem to be protecting a city manager embroiled in back-to-back scandals. “Solly is targeting blacks. Solly must go. We don’t care whether he is investigating misconduct or not. He is protecting whites.”
The people of Tshwane will continue to suffer while political parties try to console them with false hope. As for my grandmother: “These people come to tell us to vote for them. Once we do, we never see them again. I am never voting again.”