What have we done to Madiba’s legacy?

2012-07-21 10:13

Much has been made this week of the legacy of former president Nelson Mandela.

Thousands of children across the country assembled at 8am on Wednesday to sing a specially arranged birthday song to the country’s most beloved nonagenarian. And many of their parents spent 67 minutes this week pitching in to help the less fortunate.

But some of those living in Mandela’s own neighbourhood were not so delighted. Residents of the Oliver Tambo Municipality – which oversees Madiba’s village of Qunu and the nearby city of Mthatha – were embarrassed to have high­profile visitors, including former US president Bill Clinton, witness the poor conditions in their area.

The municipality, which is named after beloved struggle hero and ANC president Oliver Tambo, has the dubious distinction of being among the country’s worst providers of water and sanitation.

About 70% of its 2 million residents have no access to clean water and more than half have no toilets. This while the municipality at the end of the financial year, which ended last month, had to hand back R560 million – more than half of its municipal infrastructure grant.

Compare this to what Mandela himself has brought to Qunu – a library, a lively community centre, schools and even a church – and to the country as a whole.

How about if senior officials at some of South Africa’s underperforming municipalities – like OR Tambo – spent 67 minutes a day doing the jobs they are paid to do? Properly.

Maybe then their residents wouldn’t be ashamed of where they live. 

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