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No use voting, say angry protesters

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DAILY NEWS

Jane Gumede, left, and Phethile Ngubane say that wood fires are the only way to generate warmth and cook without electricity. Picture: Marilyn Bernard

Durban - Thousands of residents from informal settlements on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast took to the streets, burning tyres and throwing rocks to protest at the lack of service delivery.

They have also vowed to abstain from voting in tomorrow’s general elections, saying it meant “nothing” to them.

About 5 000 people protested near Nsuze on the R614, between Wartburg and oThongathi.

The protest started at 2am and came to a halt at midday on Monday after police intervened, arresting one man.

Angry shack dwellers said there was no point in voting.

“We still have no electricity and even though we have taps, there is no running water here,” said Phethile Ngubane, 43.

“We still cut wood in the bush to cook and keep warm. What’s changed?”

She said she was fed up with the lack of development and functioning infrastructure in eMbilini in Ward 8.

“Locally, there is no good governance, only bribery and tenders,” she said.

“Twenty years later and there is no improvement in our lives, so what else can we do?”

Jane Gumede, 53, said the government had forced their hand. “They make us fight even for basic things.”

An 18-year-old “born-free” and potential first-time voter said she was losing faith in the government.

“I am not motivated at all to go and vote. For what? We don’t even have street lights in this area or a bridge for children to cross to get to school safely,” she said.

“They don’t care about us.”

Another resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I grew up in this area. We see other areas being developed. Development is going past us. On election day we are going to the voting station and telling people to make three crosses on the ballot paper so that they spoil their vote.”

The resident said they asked the local councillor to talk to the mayor about installing electricity in their homes, but they had not received any feedback.

Another resident, who also asked to remain anonymous, said she would also not vote.

“We have to go to the river every day to get water while we have to watch people from other areas having their areas developed. On Wednesday we will be at the school protesting and encouraging people not to vote or to spoil their votes,” she said.

“We are fed up with what is going on here. It seems as if they are deliberately targeting us with underdevelopment. We are not asking for much.

“We are not even asking for RDP houses. All we want is access to water and electricity, that is all. They (politicians) only remember us during election time.”

Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, confirmed that a man was arrested during the protest. He was to have appeared in the Nsuze Magistrate’s Court today.

He said the large number of protesters who hailed from eMbilini, eSdumbini, Phambilini, Naleni, Mgetane, Ntabamhlo-phe, Nophamba and Umcathu had dispersed after more than six hours.

Thembani Ngongoma, national spokesman for Abahlali baseMjondolo, said while they had not been involved in on Monday’s protest, they understood the issues.

“It’s unfortunate that people have to protest to be heard. We know how difficult it is to engage with the powers that be,” he said.

Ngongoma added that abstaining or spoiling votes did not achieve any real change.

It often left the same people in power, he said.

Daily News


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