As President Cyril Ramaphosa replayed a predictable litany of promises during his state of the nation address (Sona) last week, I couldn’t help but think of pupils from rural villages who were missing out on their education as a result of recent rains that destroyed road infrastructure and washed away bridges.
The president shared with the nation shocking statistics about unemployment, but, to many middle class people, these comments did not mean that much. But to the millions sitting at home who are unable to learn or earn, the comments only increased their anxiety.
Perhaps there was some poetic justice when Police Minister Bheki Cele and his entourage were stopped in their tracks by heavy rains recently. The Cat in the Hat was on his way to Mkhondo district in Mpumalanga to visit the family of an ANC councillor who had been murdered in that area.
But Cele is a politician, so the inconvenience was only temporary. After one of his aides phoned the right people, a troop of workers was brought immediately to fix the gravel road so the entourage could pass.
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Which brings me to my village of Mdletyeni in Tsomo in the Eastern Cape.
Every time it rains, people must park their cars or risk spending hours stuck on the muddy roads. Here, a stuck driver’s best bet is knowing someone with a tractor who can tow them out of the muddy situation.
Imagine having a relative who needs to be rushed to hospital and there is nothing you can do but slowly watch as they take their last breath.
Last week, I watched with a broken heart the pictures of pupils trying to cross an overflowing river after a bridge had collapsed. Needless to say, by the time they got to school, they were soaking wet.
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He knows the situation because Ngcobo, his home town, is experiencing the same problems. I was covering a story in that area some time ago when I found myself having to park the car up in the hills and walk a long distance to the valley below to the family I was meant to interview.
You can imagine the struggle of walking up and down hills in the scorching heat or having to walk up carrying a sick person.
Enough of the empty talk during the Sona and its provincial equivalents, we need action – now!