“I am unemployed and have 10 years living at Phase 10 (informal settlement). There is water but we don’t have electricity and houses. I also want to live like other people. I am hustling here at Central Park, selling cigarettes.”
This was the impassioned plea to ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa from a disgruntled Free State ANC voter at the weekend.
The province is an ANC stronghold.
Vincent Kgoe, 44, came running towards Ramaphosa after spotting him during his walkabout in the Bloemfontein central business district.
Ramaphosa, who was accompanied by several senior provincial ANC leaders, was on a charm offensive ahead of the May 7 elections.
Speaking to The Star after his encounter with Ramaphosa, Kgoe said: “He said they were on their way to providing the services. We don’t know when. We will hear from them. But I will still vote for the ANC.”
Inside the Central Park Shopping Centre, Ramaphosa met a general worker for a roof-tiling company. With electric cables and other plumbing equipment hanging all over his body, Godfrey Jacobs, 30, said he needed a decent job.
Ramaphosa replied: “But you have a job at least. Hang on to it.”
While Jacobs was not satisfied with the answer, he vowed to vote for the ANC “for the sake of my children’s future”.
After greeting patrons at a hair salon and handing out pamphlets, Ramaphosa came across Tebogo Ramatshabane, an unemployed street vendor who complained about lack of jobs and poor services.
Ramatshabane later said the party he loved dearly had failed him.
“I have been staying at Phase 7 for 12 years and I still have no house. I will give them another chance, but if they don’t come to the party after the elections, I will lead a service delivery strike there,” Ramatshabane said.
Christo van Vuuren, a restaurant owner, said he would vote for Ramaphosa “if he brings better working conditions so I can grow my business and create jobs”.
His employee, Rosslyn Seipobi, said although the ANC had not fulfilled its previous promises of jobs and the reduction of crime, “I will give the party a second chance”.
Addressing Free State University students later, Ramaphosa said the ANC was the only organisation with a track record and credible programmes to improve the lives of South Africans.
Opposition parties, especially the DA, were “copycats” who had copied the ANC’s election manifesto, its slogans and even its songs.
Ramaphosa reiterated that the ANC planned to spend R1 trillion on infrastructure to stimulate the economy and create jobs, especially for young people.
As for the despondent young graduates and other unemployed youth, Ramaphosa’s message was simple: never give up.
“You don’t need to sit back. You must get on your feet, go out there and hustle until you achieve your objectives.”