'I want a president who is in touch with his people' – Eastern Cape voter

2019-04-27 08:51
Thulisile Mboyazwe at her makeshift stall in Libod
Thulisile Mboyazwe at her makeshift stall in Libode, Eastern Cape.

The road leading into a small Eastern Cape town named Libode is awash with streetlights full of political party posters in the run up to the May 8 general elections.

The fight for the most visible posters is clear: it’s the ANC, the prominent red and yellow of the the EFF, and the UDM. DA posters can be spotted here and there. 

In the 2014 elections, the ruling party received an overwhelming majority in the region – over 80% of the votes. Just over 84 000 votes were cast. But how will people vote this time around?

Senzo Shange, a budding entrepreneur in his mid 30s sets up his equipment for the day’s work on the side of the main road, fraught with open sewers and litter.

Shange is a carpenter who has made Libode his home, saying he saw there was a need for his skill-set in the town.

The father of four dons an ANC T-shirt and a pair of shorts on the particular day that News24 meets up with him. His carpentry business is a few metres away from a taxi car wash.

"I started carpentry in 2006 and it was the love and passion for it that got me into the job," he says.

Carpenter Senzo Shange moved to Libode from KwaZul

Carpenter Senzo Shange moved to Libode from KwaZulu-Natal for better opportunities. (Lerato Sejake/News24)

'All I want is for my business to grow'

He tells News24 that since he started, he has been happy with the response from people who are interested in his craft.

"Business is good," he says.

Given that this year marks 25 years since democracy, Shange says what he has seen so far has been unsatisfactory.

"People should have, more than anything, access to jobs and, small businesses such as mine should be given support so that we are able to employ people." 

Shange laughs when he is asked why he will vote on May 8.

"What can I say?" he asks, before continuing, "After elections I would like for us small businesses to receive support from government. We have been knocking on doors and to date, it has been tough to get any support."

Shange has built a shack next to his work station where he operates from and displays his work.

Inside, one finds a table with chairs, a cupboard unit and a bench – just some of Shange’s work.

"You look inside and you look at the business that I have, all I want for it is to grow."

Asked what qualities he is looking for in a leader of the country, Shange says he wants a president who is in tune with people’s struggles, hopes and aspirations.

"I’d like for the incoming president to hear first-hand what it is that people are dealing with – not just take decisions at the top."

A resident with 'no rights'

At the beginning of the main street, close to the taxi rank, Thulisile Mboyazwe sits quietly at her table lined with potato chips, cigarettes, fruit, biscuits and sweets for sale. She watches people move up and down the street as she wraps herself in her blanket to keep her lower body warm.

"I’m not voting," she says, shaking her head. "I'm a resident of Libode, but I don't see myself as having any rights," she says.

Thulisile Mboyazwe at her makeshift stall in Libod

Thulisile Mboyazwe at her makeshift stall in Libode, Eastern Cape.

Not far from her, another street vendor is setting up her table, ready to begin her day's work. It's just after 10:30, and Mboyazwe speaks about elections.

"The issue of permit books to be able to sell on these streets is a huge one," she tells us. "I started [selling] further down the road, but the local municipality said the permit books are closed and thus I cannot apply to relocate elsewhere since we are being moved."

'Know the reality'

She bemoans this move by the municipality. She has been selling goods in the area for years. "They [the municipality] told us to continue selling wherever we are, but property owners are chasing us away," she adds.

The local municipality did not take calls from News24 to provide comment on the matter.

On the outskirts of Libode, an elderly man, seemingly interested in the parked car next to the road and camera, stops next to the window and enquires.

After giving him our credentials, he shares his view on the May 8 elections. "I'm not voting; I didn't even register. I just watched as people my age went to register. Me? None of that.

"It is up to you [as journalists] to make sure that we are well-informed with the realities of the country. It is also up to you to ensure that the people who are in power and seek our votes know the reality."

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