Nzimande’s big plans for home town Dambuza

2009-12-22 00:00

HIGHER Education Minister Blade Nzimande is concerned about the lack of development in Dambuza, his home town.

But he has big plans for the area and the greater Edendale as a whole, which he said will require working together with communities and instilling a spirit of ownership among residents.

Nzimande was giving out food packs in Dambuza yesterday in his capacity as a patron of the Dambuza Community Development Trust.

Nzimande, dressed in jeans and takkies, stopped to shake hands with the locals, many of whom referred to him as “big brother”. In many instances he was able to recognise the greeters and tell stories of how he knew the people.

Nzimande agreed to speak to The Witness only once he had addressed the crowd, some of whom had come as early as 5 am. He was later seen helping some of the grannies, some barefoot and using walking sticks, to carry their food packs.

“I’m worried about these grannies that are sitting in the sun,” he said making his way back to the people after he had seen the food divided into portions in the hall.

A frail-looking Khanyisile Mdlose (86) said she is looking after eight grandchildren, none of whom work. She said the R800 grant she receives is like nothing and the hamper is very welcome.

“It is a big help because I can never manage every month. We would have had to spend Christmas without food. I had a stroke in 2000 and it hit me again this morning, which is why you see me in a wheelchair. But I was here at 5.30 am because I had no choice.”

Another granny, Nomi Gumede (65), was thinking of leaving just before Nzimande arrived after 11 am, saying that she has diabetes and sore legs and has to use crutches to get around.

“I’m very happy, my child. This is a good thing they are doing. But the bad part is the waiting.”

Gumede looks after two grandchildren.

The discomfort and the frustration of waiting seemed to disappear for many people who came alive when Nzimande spoke to them.

He encouraged the people to work with the government and keep children in school.

“No child will be sent back home just because they come from poor families. We already have no-fees schools, but government can’t do anything without your participation … what will take us out of poverty is education,” he told the crowds.

He later told The Witness that the trust, known as Dam Com, was registered in 2007 with the aim of improving the lives of the people of Dambuza.

“The point is, we can’t leave things to the government. Development happens faster where the community takes interest in its own development.

“This is the fourth time we are doing this. We get sponsors and unfortunately with the economic situation the packs were not as big as last year. We are not trying to create dependency, but today is about building a spirit of togetherness and acceptance and more people to get involved because we can’t leave things as they are.”

Most of the houses in the areas are built of mud and there are no recreational or educational centres. Recently, it received tarred roads for the first time, but for many households, water is drawn from the street taps and they still use pit toilets.

Nzimande and Dam Com are building a crèche with the sponsorship they have received. The crèche will be opened next year, and will accommodate 100 children.

The minister said they have also secured sponsors for the building of a community library and, later, a computer centre.

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