A six hour journey to vote
As the local government elections approach, journalism students from the universities of Free State and Johannesburg have taken time out to connect with their roots and take a deeper look at the state of affairs in their respective communities. Danzel Rademan of Postmasburg reflects.
I will be travelling six hours by bus from Bloemfontein to my home town of Postmasburg to cast my vote on 3 August 2016.
Postmasburg, is part of Tsantsabane Local Municipality. It is located within the north-eastern parts of the Northern Cape Province and falls within the boundaries of the Siyanda District.
I live in Ward 6, better known as “White City”. Residents in my ward have love for fruit trees. Their yards have grapevines, orange, fig and apricot trees. I get jovial when Spring comes and the trees begin to blossom because I know I will be indulging in juicy fruits under my veranda of my three bedroomed house.
My ward is in voting district 11. The total number of registered voters captured on the IEC Voters’ Roll is 2, 635 to date. According to census 2011, there are 5 541 people in my ward.
44% are Black African, 40% are Coloured and 14 are White. Other population groups make up the remaining 2%. Males constitute 56% of the population. This is a clear indication that there are fewer women in my ward. Afrikaans is the predominant language spoken at home.
Many people live in RDP houses; however you will still find a great number who still live in shacks. Census 2011 discloses that 86 % of the community members live in houses, whereas 7.5% are living in informal dwellings/shacks. We consider you fortunate if you are living in a spacious house, connected to the electricity grid and have running water.
The infrastructure of the roads in White City are in a horrible state. We don’t have tarred roads, expect for the main pavement road, adjacent to the community park. This road was completed in 2014. People of my ward don’t have their own primary healthcare facility. For medical care, we have to walk an extensive mile to the town clinic. Despite this, our ward boasts the first ever pre-primary school in the Newtown neighbourhood.
Our ward councillor is the ANCs Mpho “Mesisie” Mashila. Mashila was sworn in as councillor in 2011 shortly after the untimely death of the former councillor Debra Mogorosi.
Mashila, who is currently serving as chairperson of the Labour Desk Forum (LDF), is aware of socio economic issues within the district.
“Young people between the ages of 15 -35 make up 85% of the unemployed in this ward,” she said. “The escalating school drop-out rates, lack of financial resources for matriculants to enhance their tertiary careers and lack of skills development are some of the core reasons why youth unemployment is still a key challenge in the community,” she said.
Only 61.6% of the ward population has access to clean drinking water and sanitation. Refuse removal is a priority for my ward. Waste is collected every Tuesday.
My parents were very vocal about Mashila’s leadership style. My father, Johannes Molwagae, feels that she has failed our community. “It’s only now with the upcoming elections that she decided to install a waterline for people who have been living without access to sanitation and sewerage for the past few years,’’ he said. “She also set up 50 solar panels in Maramane, which falls within her ward.”
My mother, Florah Molwagae, added her bit. “She hardly ever calls regular ward meetings to inform people about the latest developments and about job opportunities for the unemployed,” she said.
I cannot wait to see how the local elections will unfold. People have become aware of the empty promises political parties make. Save Tsantsabane Coalition (STC), is a newly established political party formed because of this awareness and they mean serious business. Over the past few months they have been campaigning to recruit members to join their movement.
Will I be voting? Definitely! If we want to see radical changes in our ward, we need to nominate suitable candidates who will pledge themselves and fight for the interests of the community. I need to be part of a generation that has a say in matters that concern them.
The six hour bus ride is long, but it will certainly give me enough time to decide on who I put my cross next to.