‘This is unacceptable by any means. No, no, no . . . this can’t happen. The roads are terrible . . . refuse removal . . . what is the problem with building houses? What is your problem with building houses?’
“JULLE paaie is ‘* gemors (your roads are a mess), this place is dirty, the unemployment rate is too high and there are a lot of drug traffickers and alcohol abuse.”
This was the tongue-lashing given to the executive mayor of Sol Plaatje, Patrick Mabilo, by President Cyril Ramaphosa in Colville during his door-to-door campaign yesterday morning.
Accompanied by Shane Griqua, the ward councillor, Mabilo, Magaliso Matika, the Frances Baard ANC chairperson, and other ANC officials, as well as the Premier, Dr Zamani Saul, Ramaphosa asked Mabilo if the city had refuse removal.
“There is an old lady there and she says that across from her house there is a dumping site and she is sick. Is there refuse removal? Mr Mayor, look there,” he said, pointing to the sight.
“This is unacceptable by any means. No, no, no . . . this can’t happen. The roads are terrible . . . refuse removal . . . what is the problem with building houses? What is your problem with building houses?”
While walking through the dusty streets of Colville, Ramaphosa entered several houses before addressing the community, standing on the back of a truck.
One of the houses he visited was that of 72-year-old Winifred Oliphant in Delta Street, whose only request to South Africa’s first citizen was for two loads of gravel to stop the flooding in her yard.
An overwhelmed Oliphant said she was honoured by the president’s visit.
“I cannot believe that the president actually came and sat on my couch to have a conversation with me. It is a real honour. I am going to join the ANC now. I also feel important,” she said in awe.
Ramaphosa also visited 56-year-old Fredere Palm, who is confined to a wheelchair following a stroke and also recently underwent a hernia operation.
Palm was also honoured by the president’s visit, using her few minutes of dialogue to request that the disability grant be increased.
Zelda Nero, 56, also engaged with the president at her house and told him that she was still waiting for the doors that she was promised by the ANC during the election campaign.
Nero explained to the president that every day she had to remove the damaged door and lean it against the wall and return it at night.
A shocked Ramaphosa also visited a house where 42 people live. “Forty-two people in one house,” he exclaimed. “That is just a mess. I was not happy to see that.
“The good thing is that I saw it for myself. I am very pleased that I was here personally as a president with the premier, mayor and your ward councillor to witness that things are not going well here,” he told the residents.
He identified housing as the biggest challenge in Colville.
“The housing challenge has to be addressed soon in this area. More houses will be built here.”
Ramaphosa pointed out that companies like De Beers had already availed land for development. “What we need to do is to have engagements with the premier and the minister of Housing and Sanitation to map the way forward to build houses here,” Ramaphosa promised.
He admitted that he was disappointed when he saw the condition of the current houses in Colville.
While Ramaphosa acknowledged that job creation was a national problem, he pointed out that the Northern Cape had a lot of opportunities that needed to be used to full advantage.
“I realise that most of the people here are jobless, especially the young people. The grants that you receive are not enough either because you have to pay school fees or buy school uniforms,” he elaborated.
According to the president, the government is working on a job creation programme that will see the mobilising of investments into the Province, including in the small-scale mining sector.
Ramaphosa stated that he was pleased to see that even members of the opposition parties had put their faith in him by expressing their concerns regarding their living conditions.
He was referring to a group of people dressed in DA T-shirts who complained that the president had not been taken to those people who were living in shacks.
The group, some of whom became rowdy, was called to order by security guards.
One of the complainants stated that only selected people in houses were visited while they were left to “drown” in flooded shacks. “I believe this should not be all about the ANC but about the community as a whole.”
Ramaphosa promised to return to the Province, specifically to come and see the progress made in Colville and Mountain View in Pampierstad. “I will return before the end of this year to come and inspect the work completed on the various projects,” he warned.