The National Freedom Party (NFP) says should it be a kingmaker in Ekurhuleni, it will assist in providing basic services to residents of the metro. The party was campaigning in Ekurhuleni on Friday as part of the final push to sway the electorate before they head to the November 1 polls.
Various political parties are gunning for the metro after the African National Congress (ANC) lost its majority in council for the first time in the 2016 Local Government Elections.
The ANC later formed a coalition with the AIC, PAC, Patriotic Alliance & the Independent Ratepayers Association of SA. Smaller parties like the NFP are hopeful to have an impact, as a result.
The party took its campaign to Mazibuko Hostel as part of its final push to garner support. The hostel was built by the apartheid government in 1983. Almost four decades later, the buildings are in tatters. Here the NFP believes smaller parties can make a difference in changing the conditions of the people.
NFP Secretary-General Canaan Mdletshe says, “In South Africa, the smaller parties have demonstrated over the years that they are kingmakers and the NFP is definitely going to be one of those parties that will be kingmakers here. We are not going to lie to ourselves and say we will win Ekurhuleni but definitely we are going to be kingmakers.”
“We will be willing to work with anyone except the corrupt. We are not going to be in a coalition with any corrupt organisation.”
Ekurhuleni, under the ANC-led coalition, received a clean audit from the Auditor General for the 2019/2020 financial year. Mayor Mzwandile Masina has been praised by his party for the running of the metro.
Head of elections for the ANC, Fikile Mbalula hailed Masina as an example of good governance. However, the reality for some sectors of Gauteng’s third-largest metro tells a different tale.
The conditions are dire. Water drips from the dilapidated roofs. Men and women share a makeshift bathroom. Circumstances that the municipality has committed to change. But residents describe them as empty promises.
“I have about 20 years living here being promised that this hostel was going to be built. This hostel was built in 1983. As you see it in this state, it’s always like this. We are always being promised that it will be rebuilt, plans will be made to rebuild and they don’t do it. The roofs are blown away, people are promised that their homes will be fixed and it never happens. Other parties come here and they never talk about rebuilding,” says one resident.
Another resident says: “I’ve been here for too long. Whether I vote or not, there is no help. The houses we live in are in bad conditions. Water seeps through when it rains. We stay close to the toilets and we share them with men.”
“The situation we find ourselves in is very difficult because the hostel is too old now. It’s been years of being promised that it will be rebuilt. I started staying here in 2003 until now. There is no change. Even now we are living in a place that’s not right. There’s no water, it’s filthy, there’s rubbish inside and there are no roofs in some places. The windows are broken, it has cracks in many places,” adds a resident.
These are conditions that Mdletshe believes the party can change.
“It is our responsibility as the National Freedom Party to make sure that we change the lives of the people of this hostel. We are going to make sure that as we are going to co-govern. We are going to renovate this hostel. Actually, we are going to demolish it and start it afresh because it’s not conducive for living conditions. It’s unhealthy. The toilets, men and women have to share. The toilet is just metres away from the kitchen so that is not healthy.”
With just a few days before South Africans head to the polls, the NFP is gunning for the support of hostel dwellers to shift the narrative in metros and municipalities. Residents are hopeful that the party will bring long-awaited change to them. Giving them decent living conditions. And restoring their dignity.
NFP Deputy President Jeremiah Mavundla outlines what the party aims to do at its manifesto launch: 10 October 2021