Zweli ‘not helping us’

2020-04-20 14:47
Willowfontein resident Khanyisile Ndlovu (46).

Willowfontein resident Khanyisile Ndlovu (46).

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While the outbreak of Covid-19 has turned Health Minister Zweli Mkhize into a hero in the eyes of many South Africans, neighbours back home in the semi-rural township of Willowfontein, outside Pietermaritzburg, see him differently.

Noluthando Shezi, a vegetable vendor, says while she is impressed with the work Mkhize is currently doing around Covid-19, she would have been more excited if the Health minister were to lend a hand in the fight against poverty in Willowfontein.

“What puts me in a difficult position is the fact that there is no service delivery here in Willowfontein and yet comrade Zweli comes from this very area. The view of local people is that he should first have started by helping them fight the poverty. As it stands many feel he has turned his back on them,” she said.

Ndunduzo Ndlela, a local Maskandi music artist, said although he had a view about Mkhize, he was not comfortable to express it in public. “In this area politics is a very risky business and one can easily be killed for expressing an opinion. All I can say is that I’m proud to be a neighbour to one of South Africa’s most famous doctors,” he said.

Mavis Khumalo, who is struggling to make ends meet due to ill-health, said while she often walked past Mkhize’s house on her way to the nearest tuck-shop, she knew very little about him.

Thami Mseleku, a former ANC activist in the area, blamed local politicians for the negative perceptions around Mkhize. “He is a good guy who has done a lot for the province and the entire country, but the problem is that certain ANC comrades in the community have used his name to do wrong things.

“They will threaten anyone who speaks out against poor service delivery by saying that they are connected to comrade Zweli, implying that they are untouchable. It is unfortunate that local people are not able to openly say good things about him because of ANC factionalism,” he said.

Simeone Nyandeni, a pensioner, said the local community was preoccupied with daily struggles, leaving them with little time to assess Mkhize’s role in society. “Even these Covid-19 food parcels which government keeps talking about have not reached the poor in this area ... People have been receiving little help from government.

“Maybe that’s why they end up painting Zweli with the same brush as other government leaders who have failed them in the past.”

 

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  covid-19
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