Mawa Block 9 village – Winds of change blow slowly

2011-07-16 16:01

Fourteen years after applying for an RDP house Phineus Pilusa still shares a one-room mud house with his wife and two children.

Unlike many other adults, the 64-year-old former farm worker has not known privacy nor peace of mind since 2000.

That was the year his other rondavel collapsed after heavy floods swept away houses at his Mawa Block 9 village, Bolobedu, outside Tzaneen in Limpopo’s Mopani district.

The grass roof of Pilusa’s dilapidated structure leaks during the summer rains. In winter strong winds and dust sneak in through the cracked walls.

The structure, which has no windows, sports a self-made door and a floor made with a mixture of soil and cattle dung.

Pilusa says he has applied unsuccessfully for an RDP house at least three times since 1997. He says he was also overlooked when 10 flood victims were given emergency relief houses.

“I do not understand why they always overlook me. I register like others but never get a house. Maybe I have wronged them somehow,” says Pilusa,

The reality, though, is that service delivery at Mawa, which is situated about 200kms east of Polokwane, is poor.

Mawa Block 9 is dry and dusty and lacks basic facilities. It is one of 132 rural villages that fall under the Greater Tzaneen municipality, which has a yearly budget of R750 million.

The rampant unemployment and poverty in the area is obvious.

Even though the main road that leads to the village has been impressively gravelled and two bridges are under construction the streets are inaccessible.

Most youths say they play street soccer for entertainment while most of the men say they drink or gamble.

Chairperson of the Mawa Block 9 civic association Evans Morwatshehla says even 17 years into the new dispensation basic services – such as RDP houses, water, electricity, roads and even a local high school – are in short supply for the 4 000 residents.

Until last October learners had to negotiate a 14km return trip through the bush to get to Khesethwane High School.

Morwatshehla says while the community appreciates the two buses that have been provided by the government this intervention is inadequate.

He insists that even though hundreds of houses have been built since 1994 in Ward 2, which is made up of five villages including Mawa Block 9, not a single house or toilet has reached his community.

He says the 10 families that received houses in Block 9 were victims of the floods 11 years ago.

“So does it mean if there is no funeral our people cannot get services?” asks Morwatshehla.

“We feel neglected and discriminated against because we always raise these issues with the leadership but we
have never received a satisfactory answer.”

Two additional boreholes have been provided but Morwatshehla says residents in the new sections have been waiting for water and electricity for about 20 years.

They are still forced to relieve themselves in the bush.

Maite Victoria Kgatla (36), an unemployed mother of two, says she still has to use candles and drink dirty water.

Sophy Seshweni says her village has never benefited from the municipality’s street tarring projects.

However, Tzaneen municipal spokesperson Thulani Thwala denies that services are in short supply in Block 9.

He accuses residents of pushing “narrow and selfish tendencies” rather than adopting an integrated approach to service delivery.

“A community to us is not in isolation of the broader community,” says Thwala.

“I am saying this as a caution.

“Generally people have developed a sectoral tendency – a unit tendency. If a section of a village has no water they say the entire village or ward has no water.”

Thwala says Block 9 has benefited from the 307 houses that have been built in the ward since 2008.

He later acknowledges that water, housing and electricity are still challenges at Mawa Block 9 but denies that the community is being discriminated against.

He says the municipality will spend R30 million on electricity this financial year.

It has finished electrifying old villages and will start with its list of 181 extension villages, of which Block 9 is number 43 on the list.

Asked how long Block 9 will have to wait to get electricity Thwala is noncommittal.

“It depends on funding. It would be wrong and misleading for me to say Mawa Block 9 will get electricity in 2017 or in 2012,” he says.

He says the municipality is following its housing and electricity waiting lists to the letter, but Nurse Ramonyathi of Mawa Block 12 extension says she got a new RDP house a year after registering in 2004, suggesting the list is not strictly adhered to. 

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