The former Transkei region in the Eastern Cape is one of the poorest areas in South Africa.
This region is well known throughout the world as a former Bantustan that was ruled by the Matanzima brothers and later General Bantu Holomisa ( who actually liberated the Transkei by unbanning the liberation movements ).
This region is also well known for producing great liberation fighters like Nelson Mandela,Oliver Tambo,Walter Sisulu,Govan Mbeki,Thabo Mbeki, Chris Hani ,Winnie Madikizela - Mandela and many other distinguished leaders of the struggle against Apartheid.
One would expect that such a region as the Transkei region should be buzzing with economic activity considering that it has produced such distinguished individuals, yet the Transkei is becoming a wasteland with little development.
Mthatha the former capital of Transkei is a shadow of its former self and has been reduced to a pale town with little economic activity. Mthatha used to be a respected business and administrative centre, now it's quickly becoming derilict , there are potholes everywhere in fact these potholes are getting so deep that they will soon become cliffs in the middle of the city.
There are bust sewage pipes all over the city, and rubbish is piling in places where it should not be and no one is doing anything about this. The once revered Mthatha general hospital is now a shadow of its former self, having lost most of its skilled doctors and nurses, it is under staffed and has virtually no specialists and is always short of medicine.
What is happening in Mthatha is a mirror of what is happening in all the towns of the former Transkei region.
The major town Butterworth / Gcuwa was once a thriving industrial and commercial centre of the Transkei, it had industries like Coca Cola that provided jobs to thousands of people and it contributed to the socio-economic development of the people of Transkei.
After 1994 there was an exodus of industries from Gcuwa to bigger cities, this exodus had an adverse effect on the local economy living thousands of unemployed people. The high unemployment rate has contributed to the rising crime rate.
The crimes are mainly committed by young unemployed people who have no job opportunities, the sad part is that these crimes affect the most vulnerable in society, women and children.
Lusikisiki a town in the OR Tambo Region, was once considered to be the third largest town in the former Transkei and it had a great potential.
Magwa tea estate, one of the biggest tea estates in the world is situated in Lusikiski. Magwa tea estate used to provide thousands of jobs to the eastern Transkei people, but after 1994 it became bankrupt and was sold at least two times to overseas companies who really never did a good job in restoring it to its former glory.
Magwa tea estate has been closed and opened more than four times and in the process people have lost their jobs and the few that remained, were either paid half of their wages or not paid on time.
The state of the St Elizabeth hospital in Lusikisiki leaves much to be desired, it is short on doctors and experienced nurses and has got no specialists. The medicine is mostly out of stock and patients who are in great pains are given panados because there are no sedatives. The lack of medicines also contributes to high mortality rate especially to those who are suffering from dreaded diseases
The town of Lusikisiki is in a state of disrepair with a dysfunctional one main street that cannot hold the huge traffic.
The matter of the Transkei as a whole is a painful one, after 18 years of democracy there are still people who fetch water from the river and they share this water with animals.
The maize fields are lying fallow and people no longer want to practise substinence agriculture and are now relying solely on government grants and remittances from the mines.
Roads and Infrastructure are in a state of disrepair all over Transkei.
There are very few schools that are in a good condition and those few good have no libraries, and laboratories. Most schools have a shortage of textbooks and other tools for learning.
Starvation is all also rife, with children often going to bed hungry.
The crime rate is increasing and crimes are becoming more violent with the rape and murder of old women and little children. Talented youngsters who were known to have a promising future have become feared criminals who prey on their own.
Politicians and community leaders must take huge blame for the sad state of the Transkei.
Transkei politicians have become self serving tenderpreuners who are interested only in lining their pockets, without a care for their people.
Projects like the N2 wild coast that would provide hundreds if not thousands of jobs, are being stalled as politicians and community leaders are busy fighting amongst themselves.
Every time there is supposed to be a major development in Transkei especially in the OR Tambo region, politicians and community leaders start fighting amongst themselves and the people suffer.
The issue of the brain drain is also a cause for concern in the Transkei region.
It has been a tradition for some matriculants to leave the Transkei and study at prestigious Universities and Colleges in South African big cities and major towns.
After graduating from University these youngsters mostly do not go back to work in the Transkei, they mostly stay and work in the cities in which they were studying or move to other cities where there are better job prospects.
The reason for this can be attributed to the lack of job prospects in the Transkei region.
Another issue is that some of these young graduates would like to go back to the Transkei and contribute to the upliftment of their communities, however they cannot do that because the corrupt politicians won't hear of anyone who wants to develop the communities.
Some professionals who use to stay and work in the Transkei have relocated to cities and major towns because they don't see a bright future in the Transkei.
The matter of the Transkei must be taken seriously and treated with urgency it deserves.National government must intervene and put an end to all this chaos.
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