By Linda Pona
Mayor Yandiswa Vara, are you so far removed from reality that you cannot hear your people’s cries? Like Marie Antoinette, you are so ignorant of reality that you do not realise or maybe don’t care that people are suffering. I am specifically referring to the community of eNkanini in this instance, where community members had to hold an empty truck hostage in order to get your attention for basic service delivery; this is after several attempts to get through to you.
Like Marie Antoinette, you are so pampered that community members had to walk all the way from eNkanini to City Hall to table their basic service delivery grievances to you and who, according to my conversation with some of them, allege that you were not aware of some of their grievances. Unfortunately, we could not be part of that meeting because you booted us out, stipulating that we needed to make an appointment in order to have an audience with you.
Similar to the Mayor, Ward Five Councillor Gcobisa Mene, how do you not address a part of your community when they have grievances that impact their daily lives? Yet you will ask these very individuals to vote you back into office.
In the words of local activist Patricia May, “Next year you will see [the politicians]coming into eNkanini, you will see ANC coming in here wearing their boring t-shirts, wanting us to go and do the right thing by putting our ‘X’ for them, but they cannot even do one right thing for us.”
This speaks to a lack of accountability because the Constitution states that everyone has the right to water and sanitation, and you have failed at that basic need, especially for that community. And according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, people should get the basics of water, food, and shelter so that they can reach their full potential. How does one do that when they are hungry and thirsty, and when water does come, it is contaminated?
So I ask again, are you so oblivious to the heartbreaking conditions that people live in?
In case you are, let me paint a picture for you. A middle-aged man who had a stroke does not have easy access to water in his yard; this we know when he fell off his makeshift chair while attempting to do laundry and community members went to assist him, pulling up their sleeves to finish doing the chore for him before collecting water for him from the water truck that eventually came back with water for them.
Another community member who also suffered a stroke could not get an ambulance and had to be assisted by a church member as roads are so bad in Makhanda and worse in the area.
I watched young children who should be at school unable to attend because they had no clean clothes because of water. A mother narrated the story of her toddler, who had a skin rash because of the unhygienic water they use from “ePitsini” which is a hole that is filled with water from what they assume is a burst pipe.
These conditions are not a way to live, say many of the community members. It broke my heart to see the conditions are forced to live under by the very government that liberated them only to oppress them.