‘I don’t see myself voting’: Loss of faith in Soweto as polls draw near

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As South Africans head to the polls on May 8, the promise of jobs has again become election bait for voters desperate for employment, housing and infrastructure development, including flushing toilets and access to electricity.

Speaking at the ANC’s election manifesto launch in January, President Cyril Ramaphosa, said: “We know many of our people are still struggling, they are in need of jobs and proper housing. The ANC is prepared to fix this.”

The DA’s Mmusi Maimane told supporters in February at the party’s election manifesto launch in Johannesburg: “I have a dream of putting a job in every home”.

EFF commander-in-chief Julius Malema warned that South Africa “cannot postpone the jobs question”, while speaking at the EFF manifesto launch in February at Giant Stadium in Soshanguve.

Residents of Protea South, who have seen a number of political parties doing door-to-door canvassing in their area are angry at a government they say has ignored their needs while they have to live in shacks without electricity and proper ablution facilities.

Some have sworn not to vote again while others have said they have switched political allegiance and have promised to vote for opposition parties.

“Land and an increase in social grant allocation are some of the pressing concerns drawing me to EFF,” said Josephine Monareng, 56, a resident of an informal settlement in Soweto.

Monareng, who said she used to be an ANC Women’s League member, believes the ANC government has been neglecting the community because it is steeped in corruption and she no longer has faith in the movement, hence she decided to support the EFF.

“There’s corruption, Bosasa monies are being spent by those at the top. In 1998, 134 RDP houses were built, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was there at the time for the official opening. I don’t want to go back there. I have been voting from 1994 until now; there is nothing I feel has been impressive. I then joined the DA and poverty was still not alleviated in and around me. I have faith in the EFF,” she said.

Monareng noted that members of various political parties had been seen campaigning around the area, but it would be the last time they are heard of until the next election.

“I have put my faith in the EFF (now) because I trust them. We will give them a chance and see what work they can produce for communities in five years. If I don’t see any progress, I will not be active anymore because I’d be disappointed.”

Monareng grew up in Naledi and said she knows what living under an apartheid government was like for Africans who were forcefully removed from their land and also denied rights to own any.

“The fight to get land back to its rightful owners is a big thing on their (EFF) agenda. Jan van Riebeeck came here in 1652 and we now need to get our land back. In 1996 we applied for housing that was for sale and some were bought. Some have electricity while some don’t. Promises have not been fulfilled. We had Easy Loo mobile toilets installed and allocated only to seven families.

“You need to be able to speak up and fight. If you don’t, you won’t be assisted,” said Monareng.

Sibusiso Mani echoed Monareng’s sentiments. “We live in shacks. We’ve been living here in these conditions for years. Electricity is a big factor. I don’t see myself voting. There is no employment. It is hard to get by, so I put together whatever I can, wherever I can. If you are not in government or have any family members in the government, your needs as a community won’t be catered for. I battle to support my children because I don’t have a job,” said the 33-year-old father.

And a 42-year-old mother, Elise Mokgetla, who lives with her mother and kids, also complained of the lack of housing in the area.

“We applied for housing but we are still waiting. There is crime in the area, we try to stay as safe as possible and not be out until late. No one in my family is employed so it’s difficult,” she said.

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Sunday Independent

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