Open toilets 'symbolise lack of delivery'

2011-05-13 22:43

Johannesburg - The so-called "cabriolet" toilets have become a powerful symbol of failed service delivery ahead of local government elections next week, a political analyst said on Friday.

"There is nothing more powerful than the image of a woman sitting on a toilet without an enclosure," said Judith February, head of the political information and monitoring service at the Idasa democracy institute.

"Those are very powerful images and they show the lack of compassion there is when politicians are simply not listening to people. It's a graphic description of local government failure."

The unenclosed or open toilets have been named cabriolets on social networking sites, not only because it is an open top car, but also, as the Mail&Guardian newspaper pointed out in its editorial on Friday, it reminds one of "the fashionable convertible cars some of our politicians own".

'The toilet elections'

February said it was too simplistic to describe this year's local government elections as "the toilet elections", but added that the saga had exposed the root of voters' discontent with service delivery.

"People are suffering indignity largely because of corruption and inefficiency at local government level."

To make matters worse, Co-operative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka, who was facing allegations of state funds abuse, was on sick leave.

"We have a local government minister that is not behind his desk... the message that government is sending to voters is that we are not really concerned about your needs," said February.

It was difficult to gauge how much damage the toilet scandals have caused to both the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA), she said.

The open toilets re-emerged in the news in February when the Western Cape High Court ruled against the DA in the Makhaza case. The court found the DA-led City of Cape Town had violated the dignity of residents there and ordered the city to enclose 1 000 toilets in Khayelitsha.

ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema was at court when the verdict was handed down, and told supporters outside the building: "Spread the message. We are here today to bring down Helen Zille. Convince everybody here to vote for the ANC."

A few weeks later, the ANC finds itself on the receiving end of a similar situation.

ANC 'didn't know about open toilets'

Sunday newspapers reported there were 1 600 unenclosed toilets in the ANC-led Moqhaka municipality in the Free State. The Star reported this week that the tender for the construction of the toilets had been won by ANC councillor-turned-mayor Mantebu Mokgosi.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe claimed the national ANC "didn't know". Malema visited the area, vowing "heads would roll".

Since then, the Inkatha Freedom Party has claimed it has spotted open toilets in Khutsong in the North West's Merafong municipality, while the Congress of the People in Bloemfontein "exposed" continued use of the bucket system in the Free State.

The ANC's mayor of the West Rand district municipality, Mpho Nawa, visited Khutsong this week and told Sapa there were no unenclosed toilets. He said he could only find communal toilets, of which some had no doors, in Ward 1 in Khutsong.

Nawa said the doors were stolen by people building their own houses and that residents had told him there was no point in trying to replace the doors, because they would just be stolen again.

"I was there in Khutsong and could find nothing like that [unenclosed toilets]. The IFP is telling a blatant lie."

IFP Gauteng chairperson Petros Sithole begged to differ, insisting there were about 50 unenclosed toilets in Ward 3 in Khutsong.

"They [the ANC] are just trying to hide this and deny it because they know this is bad for them," said Sithole.

A Sapa reporter who visited the area this week could not find any sign of open toilets in Khutsong. He also spoke to several residents in the area, who could not point him to any open toilets either. Most informal settlements in the area had enclosed communal toilets, the reporter said.

Don't underestimate voters

Either way, February said the open toilet wars should teach politicians not to underestimate voters just because they were poor.

"There is a perception that because you are poor, you don't understand what the government is meant to be doing for you. But people know what the realities of their lives are and they know when the wool is being pulled over their eyes."

Service delivery protests were not only about basic services, but also about people complaining that they were not being heard, and that their locally elected councillors were living in a different reality.

She said that was what protesters in both Ficksburg in the Free State and Zandspruit in Honeydew, north west of Johannesburg, complained about.

A local government data and intelligence service, Municipal IQ, which measures the number of service delivery protests in municipalities countrywide, said so far there had been fewer protests this year compared to the same period last year.

From January to April this year there had been 23 service delivery protests, compared to 111 in that period last year.

Municipal IQ managing director Kevin Allan said this suggested voters were now waiting to see if promises made in the run-up to the elections would he kept.

"The apparent lull in activity may come as a surprise before elections, given contested candidates' lists and exposes around unenclosed toilets and municipal finance, but should be read positively as a possible sign of communities waiting to use elections rather than protests, and may also suggest the positive impact that politicians' visits have on communities.

"The latter must, however, be sustained, and promises implemented if protests are to be contained over the rest of 2011," said Allan.

February said one of the few ways to measure the real depth of ANC supporters' discontent with the government would be to wait for voter turnout figures.

"The lower the turnout, the worst for the ANC and the greater the indictment on the ruling party," said February.

  • ilollipop - 2011-05-13 23:05

    The poor are going to vote for the ANC because Tony Ehrenreich is going to build them houses in Constantia... and he's going to sell the majoral chain and forgo the million rand salary. He said so, he did... lol

      jannie - 2011-05-13 23:40

      If my dog had a face like Tony, I'd shave his ass and teach him to walk backwards....

      saabnut - 2011-05-14 07:18

      The ANC "didn't know", the IFP is lying, the DA is a white party, the opposition is pro- rich, the legacy of apartheid is to blame, evil thrid forces are at work... Blah, blah, blah. Billions of excuses from the ruling party. Never an admission of wrongdoing, never an acknowledgement of fault. Just buck passing and shifting of blame. Welcome to the ANC- run South Africa. Only your votes can change it...

      Winston - 2011-05-14 10:25

      @ SAABNUT. Lack of accountability is the order of the day at the ANC...

  • Dolittle - 2011-05-13 23:23

    wonder where in Africa was the 1st closed toilet used and by whom! Call me cynical, but would closed toilets not be seen as a European kind of thing?

      Stox - 2011-05-14 00:35

      They can't live without the European way of life, yet they tell those that brought it to them "to bugger off out of our country and continent (but leave all that stuff behind like cars and cement and metal and industry and medicine and farming and stuff. We like those things. In fact, they're ours too. Give."

      Neyven - 2011-05-14 01:19

      Help me out a bit. I thought the open toilets in Cape Town was started when the ANC was in power there. The DA, when it took over, gave the citizens an option of enclosed communal toilets, or a personal toilet which they had to enclose themselves.

      Martin du Plessis - 2011-05-14 01:53

      Precisely Neyven.

      Gatvol - 2011-05-14 05:21

      @Stox, according to them we stole that from them, and we are a bunch of criminals, or at least that's what they tell their supporters at the rallies. That's why they want us to bugger off back to Europe

      Lindinha - 2011-05-14 06:10

      Ungrateful beggars they are.

      Linds - 2011-05-14 07:09

      Guys, just listen to yourselves. Do you really believe any black person with self respect will really vote for a party for racists such as yourselves. You accuse ANC supporters or black people of voting along racial lines, but you push them to doing exactly that with your racist comments. If you think black people will vote DA with people who clearly see themselves as superior because of their race then you're "as stupid as you're racist" just like Steve Hofmayer.

  • Hanlie de Bruin - 2011-05-14 00:30

    I don't agree with the "open toilets" however surely, someone could've taken some wooden boards or shack-material to temporarily put around a toilet? I you sit on the toilet at home and run out of loo-paper, are you just going to sit there until one day someone walks past...or are you going to do something about? I.e. are you use the open toilet or are you going to close one up? Aren't we spoon-feeding some people too much these days?

      AlwaysHappy - 2011-05-14 00:46

      When you are used to get everything for free during the past 350 years why do you want to do anything for yourself?

      jasmin.haumann - 2011-05-14 06:56

      Hanlie tell why should somebody do the work when they got paid to do the job? Just think, you call a glass company to put a window in for you, and all they do is bring the window. You still paid an installment as well but they leave your house before the job is done. Do you think the putty shop will now come and do the rest of the work? No I do not think so.

      Phlegm - 2011-05-14 07:02

      Hanlie perhaps you missed the earlier article, it costs R 40 000 to enclose one toilet according to the Major of Moqhaka.

      Claire - 2011-05-14 08:38

      Hanlie, I remember seeing on the news a year or two ago that the DA put corrugated iron around all these toilets as a temporary solution while they were building permanent ones. A group of people (probably led by the ANC) went around and ripped them all off. They said they were angry because they wanted properly covered toilets, not cheap stuff put around it. I don't really understand their logic since now they have open toilets, but I'm sure they went home happy with new corrugated iron walls to put on their houses.

      Ozymandios - 2011-05-14 08:50

      @phlegm and how much of the R40k does the mayor take for himself?

  • Macho Mike - 2011-05-14 00:33

    These toilets have come to symbolize the political parties in SA - THEY ARE ALL SH*T.

  • eh eh eh - 2011-05-14 01:15

    Minor Issue, Major Role: Seems as though the issue of taking an el fresco dump in the Western Cape & Free State is already playing a major role in these elections. How much lower can we go? Possibly shark turd!

      jasmin.haumann - 2011-05-14 06:57

      eh eh eh i dont know

  • jbjoe - 2011-05-14 02:17

    "There is nothing more powerful than the image of a woman sitting on a toilet without an enclosure," said Judith February, head of the political information and monitoring service at the Idasa democracy institute. The last thing i want to see is a chic pissing in public...clearly Judith February has an underlying fetish....hey Judith, give me a call at 083 556 9040 if you want to explore your desires

  • Blip - 2011-05-14 04:27

    There actually isn't even one single candid photo image of anyone sitting, pants down, on an open toilet. That's just a mental image we conjure up. In reality, owners of these open toilets simply use a potty in the privacy of their own shack and then dispose of their waste, while fully clothed, in their free flush lavatory outside.

  • Brandon - 2011-05-14 05:31

    Let's vote for the ANC - they don't do a damn thing for us - but let's vote for them anyway. And when the Politicians steal millions as we see on carte Blanche every week - we'll vote for them again!! Black logic just astounds me!!

      cerveza - 2011-05-14 10:14

      @Brandon - lets make a stupid generalizing statement, but then lets feel shocked and act confused when people call us racist and say that is why they rather vote for the fat, lazy and corrupt, they consider them to be better people than you Your logic just astounds me!!

      Winston - 2011-05-14 10:32

      @ Brandon. Tell me about it...

      Eish - 2011-05-18 22:30

      On one hand you may have a point that loyalty voting is sometimes the case. But what option do people have when racists like you are in the opposition? Please go to Australia and leave us to move forward.

  • BigD - 2011-05-14 07:02

    I have always felt that the CT open toilet saga was political suicide. I made no sence to me why the DA did not enclose the toilets properly instead of going to court. The court case must have cost more the building decent enclosures. This matter of principle could cost the DA CT. One must be one step ahead of the opposition but the DA chose the wrong rout.

      Frans - 2011-05-16 11:28

      I actually think it was brilliant. The DA probably did their homework and realised that there was open toilets in ANC Munisipalities, and got the ANC to throw all the muck... now they can just sit back and watch the ANC run around like headless chickens making excuses and blamestorming each other... priceless. I personally would prefer my own open but working toilet that I can enclose myself to a communal toilet shared with 5-10 other families (Who is going to clean THAT?) or a toilet in my house that is not connected to a sewage system like in Imbali township...

  • Joe Soap - 2011-05-14 07:34

    The major difference between the DA & ANC open toilet issue, is that the DA toilets were originally enclosed by iron sheets, until the ANCYL came and destroyed these, leaving the toilets open. That is why I believe he DA had the right to defend themselves in court.

      onetickie - 2011-05-14 07:59

      Dead right Joe Soap. And of course the ANC will try the psychological crap of pointing out the open toilets in CT (as you rightly said ANCYL "opened" them up whilst turning a blind eye to their own lack of delivery. But then I guess people like ANCYL leader jARSE despite the privilege of growing up in a civilized society he no doubt still craps, pisses in the street when nature calls - Et is hour caalcha!

  • Slapper - 2011-05-14 07:42

    Open Toilets wil be an issue as long as the present bunch are running the ANC, They are more of an open Sewer that a Toilet. The ANCestors would be spinning in their graves, to witness the antics of these corrupt clowns

  • Bokkie 36 - 2011-05-14 07:43

    What I can't understand is, what the problem was with enclosing the toilets with iron? It was in the squatter camps, where the houses are a real mix of iron, wood plastic etc. it would decidedly not have lowered the tone of the neighborhood, and besides, I remember when we were kids, the 'long drop' on the farm was enclosed with corrugated iron, and nobody thought it was not acceptable, or kicked up a stink (if you'll excuse the pun) about it. Privacy was what was wanted, and aesthetics wasn't important

  • Jaimo - 2011-05-14 08:13

    You would think a pathetic ungrateful, lazy and usless nation would be thankful for connected toilet systems and enclose them themselves (FOR THEMSELVES!)and not expect EVERYTHING to be done for them using tax money from hard-working diligent citizens. ANC have failed. Give the lady a chance!

  • Krolie - 2011-05-14 08:51

    FLUSH those incompetent ANC "bigwigs" down the toilet!

  • Old dog - 2011-05-14 08:55

    Juju open is mouth to talk sh*** symbolise what

  • Beedyeye - 2011-05-14 09:03

    After the elections i guess everyone will have enclosed toilets, or maybe not. I don't think the big issue is whether the ANC or DA will change. Politicians are all the same, they make promises that they can't possibly keep and lack the motivation to push things through unless the people kick up a stink. We should follow the example of the French, if their government dares to step out of line, they down tools and make a fuss. South Africans moan, groan and do very little this is why after the elections it will be business as usual. The ANC will be laughing all the way to the bank again. The more things change the more they stay the same. The people who will feel this the most are the very people who voted for the ANC.

  • coolwaynie - 2011-05-14 09:21

    The DA must win these elections. It's the only way this country has a hope of moving forward.

  • CdnMoose - 2011-05-14 09:42

    I seem to notice, and correct me if I am wrong, but prior to the open toilets being found in the Free State, every ANC speech, spin doctor, and mouthpiece was going on about the DA's lack of compassion, civility, caring etc. because of the open toilet saga. Now that the crap they were throwing has stuck to them ( pun intended) they have talked about ancestors, laying charges because of pamphlets etc. See a party that is floundering...and love to see these ship of fools getting what they deserve...

  • djg - 2011-05-14 10:45

    all symbolises what zuma and his gang think of their own people......bloody disgrace...they should be ashamed

  • kelela24 - 2011-05-14 10:46

    The toilet saga continues. There is something I don't really understand regarding open toilet. Why wait for two years without raising a complaint.There is Khumbula Ekhaya, Speak out, Cutting Egde, Soweto Tv, SABC I,2,3 , ETV, Beeld, Sunday World, Sowetan, Public Phones, Internet, Radios, Police Stations, Military Police, Government Offices, Cope, DA , your children. I think with this type of institutions they should have solve this problem long time a go. We use the media wrongly or else the media is not helping at all. This issue is not for a political party is for the community to help themselves. They should have tackled this problem from day one using the above.

  • Porra - 2011-05-14 11:10

    Vote for the D A and they will install two side Walls to the PONG PARKING LOTE, vote For COPE and they will install a back wall, vote for IFP they will install a front wall with a door, votela for the V F they will install a roof over the pong parking lote. If you dont vote your toilet will be permanently Air Conditioned.

  • english-gal - 2011-05-14 11:24

    Let's see a photograph of Malema sitting on an open-air toilet. Nappy around his ankles. With the message of 'trust us we are doing our best to get you out of this shit' Vote ANC it's the only party that cares for you!

  • Snoopy88 - 2011-05-14 14:48

    The Star reported this week that the tender for the construction of the toilets had been won by ANC councillor-turned-mayor Mantebu Mokgosi. There's your problem right there ANC, you can't have politicians wearing two hats. If he's giving himself tenders and he is the mayor who is there to check up on him that the working is being done?

  • Zebelon - 2011-05-14 16:41

    The provision of one toilet for five households is just as unacceptable as the open toilets. Also, the breaking down of corrugated iron enclosures by the ANCYL at Makhaza is also that bad; they wanted the toilets to remain open for publicity at the expence of the discomfort confronting the intended owners.

  • Zebelon - 2011-05-14 16:49

    Many poor rural households currently have no toilets at all. Why only be concerned with urban poor, are rural poor people not part of this country that the ANC regime will treat them like animals who need no such human needs as enclosed toilets? It is clear that is the thinking of the ANC government.

  • Zebelon - 2011-05-14 17:04

    BigD@ - How can one keep on enclosing a toilet when the ANCYL keeps destroying the enclosure for publicity purposes. By the time you meet in court the same toilet would have been enclosed 200 times. Think of that expence.

  • Ralph - 2011-05-14 17:35

    We need open toilets in this country because when Malema and company speak there is no time to open doors.

  • ChinaWolf - 2011-05-18 10:47

    In this case, why don't you elect somebody who does listen... don't you have gained enough experience over the past 15 years ... what will it take????

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