Emily Maeza ready to vote in the upcoming elections
~ Jeanette Chabalala, News24
You don't have to hear her say it to know that Emily Maeza of Mahikeng in the North West is an avid ANC supporter.
When you enter the 87-year-old's yard, ANC posters and flags can be seen lined up along her fence. Small flags displayed in empty bottles also decorate her living room.
Dressed in her ANC doek and dark dress, Maeza tells News24 about her devotion to the party, so much so that she made her home an operation centre. Local ANC members gather at her house every day at 17:00 to plan for the upcoming elections.
"If the ANC dies, I will also die. I can't vote for another party," she says during the interview with News24.
Maeza says she has been an ANC member since late president Nelson Mandela was in prison. "I have always been an ANC supporter. I started with it when it was still small," she adds.
The first to vote for the ANC on May 8
"I am still proud of the ANC... the party does a lot of work. We now have toilets because of the ANC. Some people have houses and others are about to get houses because of the ANC."
She tells News24 that she will be the first to vote for the party on May 8. Maeza is not deterred by the corruption allegations against ministers and ANC MPs that have been reported in the media.
She is also not aware of the judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture and what has been revealed before its chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. For her, corruption allegations will not stop her from voting for her beloved movement.
The green, gold and black movement means a lot to her, and she believes that President Cyril Ramaphosa will bring change. She also says residents need to be patient with the party because long-term change takes time.
In 2014, the North West won 67% of the votes. But the ANC in the North West has become fragile since then. Last year, several leadership spats led to Supra Mahumapelo being ousted as provincial chairperson.
Violent protests broke out in Mahikeng and residents also called for Mahumapelo to step down as premier. In addition, the villagers were reportedly upset about clinics being shut down in the area and demanded service delivery.
After Mahumapelo was removed, he approached the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria and successfully challenged national executive committee decisions to remove him and form a provincial task team, News24 previously reported.
Later, he went back to the court after he obtained an order, in terms of which he was allowed to return to work within two days, was disregarded.
The court later granted an enforcement order that he should be reinstated urgently. But the ANC argued that there was no need to do so because it was appealing.
Still, the developments haven't changed Maeza's mind about the governing party.
'Ramaphosa will bring change'
"I will never vote for anyone. I only vote for the ANC," Maeza says as she beams.
"I am proud of my ANC. We've heard people talk about ANC and corruption…but we have never witnessed it. I am still proud even if there is corruption. Ramaphosa will bring change," she says.
Part of this change includes giving residents access to water, free electricity and more houses, she says.
She also commends the president for campaigning in the area, saying that the party is in "good hands".
"The president came to visit me [during a door-to-door campaign] in this house. He came in and people could not believe that he was here. He even shook my hand. I was very happy that day," she said. Maeza also listed things the governing party managed to achieve while in power.
"We were not getting money (grants)…but now we are getting the money because of the ANC. We have toilets because of the ANC, and some have houses that have been built because of the ANC."
However, her neighbour, April Legwaba,57, who has been living in Mahikeng for 25 years disagrees.
Speaking to News24, Legwaba says he last voted in 1994.
'Ruled by mafias and gangsters'
However, he stopped voting for the party when he experienced "failures of the [ANC] and the leadership that I have experienced within the ruling party. I have seen mafias and gangsters. So, we can't allow in South Africa to be ruled by gangsters and mafias".
His vote is now going to the Economic Freedom Fighters, he says.
"Within the leadership of EFF, like Julius Malema, he always talks the truth. I was looking for a radical party which will take upon the ANC...when they formed the EFF in 2013, I said this is the party that I want," he adds.
Just like Maeza, Legwaba has also turned his home into an operation centre - but for the EFF.
"What I have seen from the beginning of the formation of the EFF...when EFF is talking they make sure that what they promise they implement."
He says he voted for the EFF in 2014 and committed to voting for the party, again.
"The ANC ruled this country by a lie. We are tired of these lies. We want people who tell the truth. We are true leaders [in the EFF] who know democracy.
"I broke out from the ANC. I was a soldier, I have seen all the promises that Dr [Nelson] Mandela was promising us.
"From 1994 to 96 I have never seen any changes. What I have seen...I have seen discrimination among us, the blacks," he says.
Maeza and Legwaba both agree that service delivery has been lacking in the area. They say Mahikeng needs better roads and houses.
"I am very poor, and I live on grant money. I need my roof to be fixed because when it rains, there is water everywhere in the house. I want my ANC to help with that. The roof always collapses, and I would ask people to come help me out. I just want my party to come here and help with the roofing," says Maeza.
'Ramaphosa promised change'
Another resident, who spoke to News24, Welcome Ntlanganiso Jwili, 43, says he will be voting for the ANC because of loyalty.
"I know where we come from. I know our struggle. I will never leave my party, just because of Nelson Mandela [because] he spent 27 years in prison for me. When asked what the party has done for the community, Jwili says: "Rome was not built in one day."
Jwili, who was dressed in an ANC T-shirt and brown trousers speaks proudly about the party.
"Cyril [Ramaphosa] is brave for coming to us without bodyguards and he promised us that he is going to change SA.
"He promised us that crime will be a thing of the past," Jwili says.
He adds that he has been unemployed since 2009 but that he believes he will be employed after the May elections.
Find everything you need to know about the 2019 National and Provincial Government Elections on our News24 Elections site, including the latest news and detailed, interactive maps for how South Africa has voted over the past three elections. Make sure your News24 app is updated to access all our elections coverage in one place.