Disgruntled Platfontein youths refused to allow Northern Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul to leave the podium before listening to their grievances during an imbizo on Thursday.
THE DISGRUNTLED youth of Platfontein refused to allow Northern Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul to leave the podium before listening to their grievances during an imbizo on Thursday.
The imbizo was part of a “service fair”, which included the paving of 900-metres of the Platfontein main road.
The service fair further included mobile stalls from various departments, such as Home Affairs, Social Development, Health, Roads and Public Works, Coghsta, and Agriculture, Environment Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform, as well as Sassa and Sol Plaatje Municipality.
Saul handed out 10 out of 118 title deeds to local homeowners. He promised that the rest would be delivered “door to door”.
Some of the residents who attended the imbizo did not know what a title deed is, or whether they will also be allocated one.
Saul said the highlight of the programme was the road paving project, as part of improving the lives of the people of Platfontein.
An amount of R5 million will be spent on the project.
The paving project will see 55 young people, of which 27 are women, employed for the next three months.
Saul promised that the project will continue to be rolled out in more phases.
“The youth employed on the project will receive training in order to continue their skills elsewhere,” said Saul.
“We will continue to work with your local traditional leadership and the CPA (Communal Property Association) to work on the outstanding challenges in order to improve your lives.
“I am proud to highlight that no complaints were thus far raised that those employed on the project are family members, relatives or nyatsis of the CPA members who were part of identifying them for employment opportunities.”
The youth, who initially said they intended to disrupt the whole programme, said they were advised by their leader, Dala Sibongo, to wait for the premier to finish his speech.
They said they were promised that the community would have an opportunity to engage with their leaders and raise issues they consider to be in their interest.
They started shouting from among the crowd that they also wanted to be heard.
After being allowed on the podium, they slammed the local government officials that they say continue to fail them and “only make an appearance during election times”.
They raised concerns about the high rate of unemployment among the youth and the lack of basic services such as electricity and running water.
The youth said they were angered by the manner in which the premier sang the praises of the paving project and how it will empower them.
They accused the Communal Property Association (CPA) of nepotism in the hiring process on the project.
They said they wanted a representative on the CPA and during all the engagements that involved Platfontein.
One of the disgruntled youths lambasted the CPA, saying that it was only family members and relatives of the CPA members who were given preference for job opportunities.
“It is very embarrassing and frustrating to listen to how our people are told to clap every time when the premier tells them to do so during his speech. Our government is aware of all the challenges we face but is doing nothing.
“The biggest challenge is the language barriers at government departments but it continuously fails to address this challenge.
“We have requested many times before for the many unemployed youths with matric to be trained and placed at each government department, but we are being overlooked,” said the youth.
It also emerged that one of the biggest challenges is the “poor service” that the community receives from the Department of Home Affairs.
The youth pointed out that there are still many people in the community without ID documents and birth certificates.
They said elderly people keep on being given papers, which they cannot read or understand, whenever they visit the Home Affairs offices.
“There are also child-headed households, where they don’t even have birth certificates and do not know how to get assistance because they cannot understand what the officials are telling them.
“What is so difficult about hiring one of us to be stationed at such departments to restore our dignity,” asked one of the youths.
Another youth said they do not see the importance of getting title deeds for houses that are falling apart and that have no electricity.
She said she grew up with her family preferring to sleep in a tent outside the house.
“We reported the house to our ANC ward councillor because we feared for our lives, but nothing has been done,” she said.
One of the complainants, fully dressed in ANC regalia, said that they are hungry but are expected to do door-to-door campaigning, where they are insulted by the community members.
“We are going through exactly the same hardships that our parents went through. I don’t have shoes to wear and have to borrow my sister’s shoes, but the ANC does not even appreciate us,” she said before the microphone was taken from her.
Saul applauded the youth for standing up for themselves.
“We promise to find solutions to your grievances. That is why we came here to launch such an infrastructure project,” said Saul.
“It will obviously be a short-term project, but it is only the beginning, and it will empower the workers with training so that they can get certificates to find other employment.
“This project will ensure that they walk and drive on decent roads.
“If this project does not mean anything to you, it will mean something to someone.
“I promise to return to Platfontein to see the progress made,” said Saul.