Times SELECT 09 January 2020
As the ANC commemorated 108 years since it was founded, the party’s deputy president was confronted with deplorable living conditions in Upington.
Africa’s oldest liberation movement, the ANC, which has governed South Africa for the past 25 years, still has a steep hill to climb in liberating the country from dire poverty and poor prospects for a better life for all.
Deputy president David Mabuza had to make an unplanned detour to a grape farming community in Plangeni, outside Upington. He was asked by a community leader, Larry Hammer, to come and witness their living conditions.
Hammer characterised the community as a “graveyard”.
“This is a graveyard. Our people are just used by the farmers and after they have been used, they are chucked out, thrown out like rotten fruit juice just to come and die.
“But enough is enough, we want our own grape vines,” Hammer said.
The village of Plangeni has been in existence for 19 years, but the community has no running water and lives in shacks. Residents asked for decent housing, electricity and ablution services.
Mabuza pledged to the people of Plangeni that their community would be formalised by no later than March 2020.
This would be followed by basic services such as running water and electricity, he added.
“We heard about your plight and suffering, you people of Plangeni. We were told about you and we decided we were going to come see you,” he said. “You are people who have been settled here from all walks of Upington in the farms. The decision that we have taken is that we are going to formalise this area into a township.
“By the end of March, this area will be a township and we will be starting by building the first house here. I will be here with you to celebrate the building of the first house which will be the proclamation of this area to be a township.”
Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the community of Galashewe where he promised land reform in the province in a bid to boost the economy.
“We heard painful stories from some of our traditional leaders here who spoke about the dispossession of land and how they were moved away from their land and as they were moved away, their water rights was taken away from them and distributed to a number of white farmers,” Ramaphosa said.
He continued: “We said our land reform process which includes a decision taken at the 54th conference of expropriating land is what is going to happen and it will also happen here in the Northern Cape.”
Ramaphosa tried in earnest to give hope to supporters in Kimberley who have been complaining of unemployment and poverty.
“We see the Northern Cape as a sunrise province, as a province who has a great deal of promise. A great deal of opportunities,” he said.
Ramaphosa said there was a long list of derelict land that had the potential to become job creators in the province.
Later, the president engaged with faith-based organisations where he admitted the ANC had gone off course by making mistakes and taking bad policy decisions.
But, he said, they have been open about their faults and are ready to rectify the problems in the party and in the state.
“There was a time when the ANC almost disappeared … it almost died. But it stood once again,” Ramaphosa said.
He told the clergy they must not lose faith in the party as they are the “shareholders” of the ANC.
“The ANC doesn’t have a lot of money or any money at all. But we have abundant dividends because what you said the ANC should go out and achieve it has sought to achieve,” Ramaphosa said.
Mabuza also visited the community of Paballelo outside Upington where he admitted that corruption, factionalism and ill-discipline within the ANC were an impediment to governance and service delivery.
Despite its problems, he said the party should also acknowledge its strengths and victories. “We want to say the ANC is still alive. We might have had our own mistakes – we have stood up before you and accepted those mistakes – but we commit to deal with them.
“We are going to be impatient with corruption, ill-discipline [and] factionalism. Those things must end. “Progress and development are what we are going to focus on.”