In Soweto, it’s mostly ANC all the way, but some want action in ...

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In Soweto, it’s mostly ANC all the way, but some want action in SA

Many residents say the ruling party has provided a better life. Others are pinning their hopes on the new kid

Political journalist
ANC followers came out in numbers at Thokoza Park, Soweto, on Saturday, where the ANC held one of its last rallies before the local government elections on Monday.
LAST CHANCE ANC followers came out in numbers at Thokoza Park, Soweto, on Saturday, where the ANC held one of its last rallies before the local government elections on Monday.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

“Other political parties think the people are stupid, when they are the stupid ones.”

This is why Maria Motale from Diepkloof in Soweto will vote for the ANC come rain or shine, despite its shortcomings.

The 79-year-old has been a resident in the area for 58 years and says it is doubtful any other political party can do better than the ANC.

A firm believer in the party’s claimed ability to “self-correct”, Motale is not fazed by criticism that the ANC has failed to deliver a “better life for all”.

She says she and the rest of Soweto residents have, in their lifetimes, seen the better life the party promised.

It is for this reason, in her view, that it is disingenuous to believe people, especially those of her age, vote for the ANC because they benefit from government’s social welfare programme.

Their loyalty to the party goes far deeper, she insists.

“Some of the things people are complaining about are of our own doing, things such as potholes that are a result of street bashes in our townships. At some point people must accept the responsibility of looking after the good things the ANC government has done for us and cease irresponsible behaviour,” said Motale.

“Even on the electricity, it keeps tripping in Soweto because we are not paying a cent and the grid is highly strained because there are many of us who are connected.

ActionSA is hoping to take full control of Johannesburg after Monday's elections, says party leader Herman Mashaba.
ActionSA is hoping to take full control of Johannesburg after Monday's elections, says party leader Herman Mashaba.
Image: ActionSA via Twitter

“For instance, one stays in a four-roomed house, they put up 10 shacks at the back and connect everyone from the same line of the four-roomed house. Come winter, all those 10 shacks have a heater on at the same time. What do you think is going to happen? It has to trip, and at the end of the day we are not paying and we start blaming the ANC government when we are getting free electricity.”

Bachelor of education student Ofentse Pole, 21, also from Soweto, agrees that the ANC is the alpha and omega of all that is good in the country.

Pole credits the ANC government for sponsoring her schooling from the foundation phase to now.

As a young person and future professional, Pole is convinced only the ANC can ensure a secure future for her and her peers.

This, she said, is informed by a thorough reading and interrogation of manifestos of the big parties, including the DA and EFF, which she believes can’t better what the ANC has to offer.

The “narratives” that the EFF is for young people and full of fresh ideas and that the DA delivers better where it governs don’t convince her.

“The DA and EFF campaign using the name of the ANC. It is never about how they are going to bring change, but what the ANC has done wrong.

“The EFF is talking about doubling social grants and stuff like that. It is impossible because they think when they get to power money will be stacked up and they can just give. So one cannot go with a political party that promises such things just for votes. They do not think these things through.”

A man draped in a South African flag at a DA rally in Eldorado Park on Thursday.
A man draped in a South African flag at a DA rally in Eldorado Park on Thursday.
Image: Alon Skuy

Motale’s assessment of the DA and EFF is much more brutal.

“They come to us dangling food parcels and money because they think we are dumb.

“People are poor, so they will never turn down food parcels, especially those from the DA. They are beautiful, so we take them. But come November 1 they will see flames. No other party can ever come close to the service-delivery track record of the ANC. Soweto is what it is today because of the ANC government.”

For Motale and her household, the party is their permanent choice because it is rooted among the people.

Its internal problems are nothing new and it has always emerged stronger when corrected.

“Our former president (Jacob Zuma) committed mistakes and when people highlighted those and were unhappy, the ANC did something about it because it is rooted in our communities and it is a party that listens to the people.”

The doomsayers who are waiting for the ANC to fall, Motale said, are the same people who do not take the initiative to attend community meetings with their ward councillors to voice the grievances, “yet they have the biggest mouths to complain. We are so free and everything is so nice because of the ANC that we do not care about playing our part any more.”

Pole was critical of young people crying about lack of opportunities under the ANC government.

There was a sea of red on Friday when EFF leader Julius Malema addressed supporters at an election rally in Mosiliki, Katlehong.
There was a sea of red on Friday when EFF leader Julius Malema addressed supporters at an election rally in Mosiliki, Katlehong.
Image: Alon Skuy

South African youth, according to Pole, have fallen victim to and normalised cherry-picking job and business opportunities.

“The ANC is working, services are being provided and opportunities are there for people to grab, but most of us want to be spoon-fed and are selective, forgetting not all of us will be office workers.

“We now have the majority of spaza shops in our townships owned by foreign nationals who saw a gap and occupied it because the locals are sleeping and people want to blame the ANC government.”

For Lerato Ndlovu, a businesswoman operating out of the famous Vilakazi Street, supporting the ANC ended during the 2016 local government elections.

Fed up by its failures, Ndlovu opted not to vote in 2019 because of rampant corruption and neglect of emerging entrepreneurs.

She said while ANC bigwigs were lining their pockets from state coffers, she saw Vilakazi Street degenerate from a thriving business and tourism area to a crime-infested region that’s bound to financially cripple emerging businesses.

“Can people just stop being corrupt and serve the people? I am not happy and I am not going to vote for the ANC going forward.

“The last time I even wore ANC regalia was during the funeral of Mama Winnie (Madikizela-Mandela) because those are the people that fought. But right now I cannot take the lawlessness and corruption that is happening.

“I am voting for ActionSA because I think we need to remove the ANC for now so they can learn from somebody who will do the work and (Herman) Mashaba did a great job when he was mayor. When he left, Johannesburg collapsed.”

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