President Cyril Ramaphosa has endured a tough year as head of the country in the midst of a global pandemic. Some of the measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus such as hard lockdowns, alcohol and cigarette sale bans, amongst others, were not well received by many in the country.
The economic effect of the pandemic is severe and poverty levels continue to rise while corruption linked to the pandemic is slowly being exposed.
Ramaphosa is set to deliver the State of the Nation Address on Thursday. Unemployment is rife in Port Elizabeth. Housing in the impoverished area is inadequate. Celiwe Phendlani knows poverty all too well.
She shares a two-bedroom RDP house with her two children and five grandchildren. Their only source of income is the children’s grants. But she thinks the President is doing a good job.
“I would really love to commend the president for the job that he has done, but he needs to do more. We have been living in these horrific houses for so long and they have been promising us houses and to date, nothing has been done. I stay here with my children and their children. This house is too small for all of us. They must also try creating more jobs, my children can’t find jobs and that makes it really tough on me because all we have for all of us to survive is the grant.”
Youth unemployment in the Eastern Cape was alarmingly high before the pandemic with 4 out of 10 people younger than 35 looking for a job. Now, it is nearly at 50% as the economy is taking strain due to the pandemic.
Unemployment has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic:
Many unemployed young people are turning to entrepreneurial ventures. In Motherwell, a group of unemployed youth, all with matric certificates, is washing cars to generate an income.
On a good day, they wash up to 20 cars, with each going home with about R50. But not every day is a good day.
“This car wash has really saved a lot of us from crime and drugs. I really don’t know what we would do if it was not there. When the president speaks during his State of the Nation Address, please can he think of us too. We really need better working conditions. We need shelters, proper equipment, and a better water supply because that’s one thing that we really struggle with a lot. “
Residents of a burgeoning informal settlement near Greenbushes, on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth, are hoping that President Ramaphosa will announce further poverty alleviation measures when he speaks. The unstructured dwellings in the area are made from wood, corrugated iron, and other useful building materials.
More than 100 people share one communal tap.
“I really think that president Ramaphosa is a good president. The only problem is those who work under him, are not doing a great job. He gives money out but those who are supposed to take this money to the people don’t do that.”
On the other side of town, Port Elizabeth residents celebrated the lifting of the beach ban. While the residents enjoy the city’s natural offering, they have differing views on the president’s leadership.
“I would really love to say that I love president Ramaphosa and think he is by far the best president that we have had. He did a really good job with the pandemic, knowing when to prioritse the economy and when to put the people first. I really take off my hat for him, we are blessed with a good leader.”
Another resident says; “I think he is not a good president. He has failed our economy greatly. He needs to prioritise energy because it is in real trouble. He also needs to stop putting money into entities that are failing like SAA; I mean what’s the point of that.”
These Port Elizabeth residents not only want the president to deal decisively with corruption, but they also hope that the State of the Nation Address will provide direction on how to deal with the difficulties in the health and education sectors brought on by COVID-19.