Cyril Ramaphosa charms the Eastern Cape

2014-10-26 06:00

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The ANC has pulled out all the stops in its bid to regain two wards in the Eastern Cape’s hotly contested Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.

The party’s top brass, led by deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte and treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, spent Friday and Saturday campaigning across the municipality.

The opposition DA has asserted itself in the region in recent by-elections and in May’s national polls and the ANC will want to halt this progress by the time the 2016 local government elections roll around.

Yesterday, Ramaphosa visited two wards, 42 and 46, in KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage, near Port Elizabeth.

By-elections are scheduled for these wards on November 5.

Welcomed by a strong crowd of ANC supporters clad in party T-shirts, Ramaphosa wasted no time. He knocked on the door of the first house in Sagxhili Street and started asking questions.

Thembeka Notshinga (60) currently rents a shack in a backyard and wants a house to call her own.

“I don’t have a place of my own. I am hoping by the deputy president coming to visit us here at least I will have a place to stay after this,” she said.

Notshinga’s R600 monthly rent is paid by her son-in-law, as she is unemployed and receives no grants.

“I am so glad that the deputy president is here. I think today God will answer my prayers,” she said.

Other residents Ramaphosa visited complained about the price of electricity, the absence of housing and toilets in their ward, and unemployment.

The deputy president, wearing black trousers, an ANC T-shirt bearing President Jacob Zuma’s face and a black jacket, was charming and warm.

At each house, he asked for a hug from the residents. Some people asked for selfies and Ramaphosa obliged as his large security entourage trailed behind him.

Rain couldn’t deter the hundreds who came out to see the deputy president. Though some shouted at him for jobs or money, there were no violent or disruptive incidents.

In Nomakhweza Street, Ramaphosa met with Ntombizanele Boss (34) who has been waiting for a house for 11 years.

Boss has three children. The youngest is just a month old. She is unemployed and pays for her R200 rent with one child’s R320 social grant.

“The only thing I am hoping for from the deputy president’s visit is for us to get a house to stay in. I registered for a house 11 years ago, but I have nothing to this day. I just hope that by his visit our lives will also change,” Boss said.

After his visit, Ramaphosa – flanked by Eastern Cape Premier and ANC chairman Phumulo Masualle and Nelson Mandela Bay Metro mayor Benson Fihla – declined to take questions from journalists.

He did say it had been a wonderful day.

“In the main our people expressed a great deal of joy and happiness in the delivery of services. But there were concerns about housing, roads, ablution facilities and other things.”

He said he was happy that people had new homes with roofs and toilets, but said government needed to do more to improve citizens’ lives.

“But generally there has been great progress, delivered by our local council here. We have no doubt that people will vote for the party that changed their lives.

Ramaphosa said he was returning to Johannesburg happy that the ANC was delivering in Nelson Mandela Bay.

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