Stya believes strong leadership can rebuild LC

2017-11-23 06:00
LOWER CASE Lunga Adam

LOWER CASE Lunga Adam

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The genesis done and dusted, as per last month’s instalment, headlined “The Case for a rebel with a cause”! Now for the metamorphosis of Boyisile ‘Stya Mafilika...

The world over, legacies define leaders and their stints. Murmurs about those who once held power are ubiquitous, even when, as in the case of Stya, one is closing in on a decade since relinquishing the highest office. His was a bitter ending as Ward 35 councillor, for he had budgeted and planned for a five-year spell. Alas, he exited after two years, following the 2008 recall as ANC and state president of Thabo Mbeki, in whose camp he was.

His is an upbeat outlook, but staring straight in his eyes, one senses an iota of bitterness at the turn of events. For one, his was a case of unfinished business, or so he reckons.

“I did my level best for Ward 35 and delivered on some of the promises. In Mandalay, there was no community hall; today, there’s a community hall there. There were no traffic lights at Swartklip Road, between Tembani and Mandalay; there are traffic lights there today. Klipfontein and Thabo Mbeki are on privately owned land, so it’s not easy to hand out services there. But I did my level best for the youth from these areas to attain driving licences. Lower Crossroads was more united then. I always called for a meeting at least once a month, at least to keep the people informed,” he reasons.

Stya says he put aside R200 000 for five containers to build a youth centre, which plan went haywire after he went out of office.

“I bought wheelbarrows, spades and manure to do gardens in the community. I bought five computers and kept them at the library for use at the youth centre. I bought two pool tables. Many people in Lower Crossroads benefited when it comes to street sweeping jobs. I was part of the team that was in discussions and planning for the construction of the Philippi Plaza.”

The development of the Tsepe Tsepe flats, along Ngqwangi Drive and into the Island vicinity, marked the beginning of the end for him.

He explains, “When I came into office, I was given a list of approved people from the previous councillor, Mr Sidinana. My question was, ‘When was this list conducted?’ I took the list, called a general meeting and hung up the list on the community hall’s wall. Now, in this list, if a person said he stayed at a certain number and people from that block did not recognise that person as staying there, they had to decide who to replace that person with. After three months, I submitted the names to the engineering and management firm, BKS Group. The list of verified people came back – some had been rejected for this reason or the other.”

However, he was not going back in person to the affected blocks to report on those rejected. Instead, he left it to the leadership of that particular street to replace the would-be house beneficiaries.

“That was my mistake because these guys saw an opportunity to replace people through ibhatala. As a ward councillor, I would send through the name they came back with, as approval. After I left office, I was called in by the council. This saga created some smallernyana skeletons for me.”

He had planned to name some of the Tsepe Tsepe streets after local leaders. Francis Nokuzukisa Ntsengana, the late wife of Vido Cash Store owner Tat’uNcilashe, is but one.

He says, “Every day before I went to sleep, I made sure to drive around to check on drain blockages and streetlight failure so I could report these problems overnight. There was funding for the youth, the elderly and the disabled.”

As a ward councillor, he discovered that residents thought he was the solution for even the most trivial of problems. “Once, on 24 December 2006, I came back from the Eastern Cape in a huff because people were hurling abuse at me via the phone, saying I was busy having fun while there were drain blockages in the area. I was beside myself with anger. I went inside the house, grabbed my bags and drove back,” he tells me.

He adds thus, “My yard in Lower was not that secured, so people would come at any given time. I remember three or four instances where women phoned me after going to labour, telling me to come and fetch them from hospital. So what!? Because I was a ward councillor, I had to go and pick her up. It was only after dropping her that I would tell her, ‘Look, this has nothing to do with me.’ Others would come in the dead of night and start throwing stones on my roof, telling me their electricity had tripped.”

Stya says he is pained at the crime that is spiralling out of control in the community he once led, whose current leadership he is not on speaking terms with.

“After the recent imbizo by Mbalula there, I was telling my wife that Lower Crossroads is in this crisis because there is no leadership at all. If you had leadership, some of the things happening there wouldn’t be happening the way they are. These young boys can see it’s loose, so they can do as they like.”

These days, Stya keeps indoors a lot, having quit party politics five years ago, the nudges of various political parties notwithstanding. He was last project officer for DAG, working alongside social activist Josette Cole, where they trained 30 young people from Khayelitsha on capacity building.

“Thinking back, I sometimes become resentful. You ask yourself, ‘Why did I take part in those things?’ You fought for a certain cause, but you look around today and you don’t see what you fought for. You are a well-known person and you could get hurt because of things that happened in the past, so you figure the best thing is to remain indoors,” says Stya. This is in stark contrast to the early days of Lower Crossroads, when his political activism found resonance with the locals. Suddenly, Stya was a habitual alcohol guzzler. “I was no longer the Stya in the forefront, but you’d find Stya at the tavern from Monday to Monday. This was before the electrification of the area, when ice was used to make the beers cold,” he recalls.

Thus, shebeen queens would wrestle for his presence at their establishments, for whenever he was around, the number of revellers swelled up, not least for their fascination with his political anecdotes. He was good for business. Cheers!

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