After years of ANC failure, Mahikeng residents lack faith in political parties
MAHIKENG – As politicians race through the last days of campaigning to secure votes for the local government elections, underperforming municipalities have been thrust into the spotlight once again.
With its years-long political and ultimately governance problems, the North West has been highlighted, especially by the Auditor-General, for a total neglect of internal control disciplines and a lack of accountability.
This has had direct repercussions for residents who have, for the longest time, battled and pleaded for efficient services.
Eyewitness News recently spent time in what some have dubbed the province’s “capital of shame” – Mahikeng.
Forced to contend with water cuts, poor roads, and all-around deteriorating infrastructure, Mahikeng residents are fed up.
As we drive into the municipality, there’s a sombreness in the air.
Cars take turns navigating the gaping potholes on the unmarked roads, the pavements are decorated with waste and occasionally we see people carrying large water bottles.
Residents have gone days without water after workers at Sedibeng Water staged a stay-away over unpaid wages.
The company blames municipalities in three provinces, including the North West, for failing to pay for services.
A despondent Nondumiso Kubatsi said that water cuts were a regular occurrence and when it did return, the water was brown and had a foul smell.
“Yesterday we did not have water; today we didn’t have water. If you are having to do your washing to feed your cattle and goats, they need water. So, we are struggling with water – there is no water.”
Kubatsi said that the same went for electricity in the area and no one bothered to give them a fair warning or even explain what the problem was.
“We had Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The electricity was only back on Sunday at around 2pm. So for those three days, we stayed without electricity. When it comes back – after two hours, three hours it's gone. It is going to come back the following morning, and no one will ever tell you 'guys, this is the problem.'”
With just a week to local government elections, Kubatsi said that she has very little faith that any of the big political parties would turn the situation around.
“Coalition I think it will be better, but the ANC [African National Congress] has failed us. So, how can we have confidence and faith that other political parties are going to serve us?”
The Lonely Park resident said that it was up to the people of Mahikeng to vote for change.
GALLERY: The state of Mahikeng: Once a capital of opportunity, now in ruin
Residents of Danville in Mahikeng said that they had been neglected by their municipality and, in the last three years specifically, illegal dumping sites and broken infrastructure from the nearby wastewater treatment plant had made the area a breeding ground for crime and disease.
They told Eyewitness News about inefficiencies related to the provision of basic services in the North West capital and how these were a reflection of the collapse of local government across the province.
The sewage-stained canal that feeds into the Molopo River snakes past several homes here in Danville on the outskirts of Mahikeng.
The smell is pungent and unbearable but residents said that it got worse at night.
Not too far from where we stood, the scene is ironic; pigs feast on rotten foodstuff among a mosaic of coloured plastic bags and soiled nappies that rest at the foot of a sign that reads "do not litter".
Getrude Ludick has lived in Danville for over a decade.
She said that when she moved into her RDP house, the area was safe and clean.
“There was no dumping site here. It was clean, and there was no stink or anything. We could go to town by foot without being mugged.”
Now Ludick spends her days cleaning her yard because she worries about rat infestations and her families’ health.
“Every day of my life I have to pick up dirt - boxes, plastics, and things because when the wind comes it blows it up and throws the dirt in the yard. So, I have to keep my place clean because of my daughter who is asthmatic.”
Just up the road is the grossly neglected Danville Secondary School, where everything is broken - doors, windows, toilets and ceilings.
Right next door to it is another dumping site that extends over an abandoned graveyard where tombstones lay hidden behind overgrown shrubs.
Residents said that Mafikeng local municipal officials had been to the area but failed to do anything – they blame factions in the ruling party, corruption, racism, and nepotism for the dire circumstances they are forced to live in.
Meanwhile, the ANC’s spokesperson in the North West, Kenny Morolong, said that the governing party was perturbed by the state of most municipalities in the province, including the Mafikeng local municipality.
“We agree that it is a reflection on the leadership of the ANC because from 1995, the ANC has always been in charge of that municipality. So, there are mistakes that have been made under our watch, and as part of the ANC’s renewal we want to do better – we have to do better by our people.”
At the same time, North West Premier Bushy Maape is expected to address media after a visit from Water and Sanitation Deputy Minister David Mahlobo on Monday. Maape has called for a speedy resolution to the water crisis in Mahikeng and other parts of the province.
The premier has established a team that will monitor the supply of water in the province, while Cooperative Governance MEC Lena Miga has engaged municipalities and Sedibeng Water; with municipalities pledging they will service their debt with the water utility.
Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.