On the weekend, President Cyril Ramaphosa, on his voter registration and elections campaign in Soweto, was cheered for and jeered, with some residents saying they feel neglected by the ruling party amid poor service delivery challenges in the township.
On the same day, his counterpart, Julius Malema, was cheered for, by both residents of Ramaphosa’s township of Chiawelo as well as ANC party agents dressed in ANC regalia, when he made his stop at Hitekani Primary School.
One resident even said it was disingenuous for Ramaphosa and other politicians to visit communities so close to elections.
“I think it’s too late. You have neglected us for 30 years. You never wanted to know us for 30 years. You want to know about our plight, now? What have you been doing all along?" one resident is quoted as saying.
When Saturday Star visited Chiawelo this week, residents of the township slammed the government for ignoring their plight on a number of issues.
These include high levels of crime and corruption, the youth unemployment rate as well as the influx of illegal immigrants in the country.
A street vendor who plies his trade next to the school told Saturday Star that he wants to see the issue of illegal immigrants being taken seriously by the government.
“I am torn between the EFF, the ANC and Operation Dudula, and as we are about to vote in the elections, I want to vote for someone who will solve the issue of illegal immigrants who are destroying this country and taking jobs from us. Look, I am not saying the ANC or Ramaphosa is corrupt because corruption was here even before him, but things are really bad now,” the trader said.
Two unemployed young people said even though they have not registered to vote, they intended to participate in the election and will be registering should the government declare another registration period.
“We want to vote and possibly vote for someone who will take care of us as young people. We are unemployed, we want real jobs and not Ramaphosa’s grant. We want him to give us jobs and take us out of the streets. We want him to resolve the nyaope and drug issue because it is destroying us as young people. There should be more programmes aimed at young people to take them out of the harsh environment we live in,” said 19-year-old Amukelani Rikhotso.
On the other side of the township, Sylvia Rikhotso, who now sells cleaning materials after she lost her job in 2021, says crime has become a problem in the township.
“Crime is a big issue in this township. Just yesterday, a young girl had her phone taken from her. We are not safe because of crime and guns that go off, even in broad daylight. Police have their hands full because of rampant crime in this township. Our government has really let us down. Food is expensive, there are no jobs and we are forced to survive through our own means,” Sylvia said.