'It's like we don't fit into the picture here' - Zwelihle voters want to enjoy 'Hermanus freedoms'

2019-05-08 19:48
Eric Jika says it upsets him that he sees opulence
Eric Jika says it upsets him that he sees opulence when he looks down his road, while he lives in squalor. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

The corner of Hermanus that Stix Mpashi calls home is not the one shown on tourism websites, he says. He has no view of the beach and the town's famous whales, and doesn't make an income from letting his house to tourists visiting the southern coast.

"It's been 25 years since liberation, but here we still have segregation. In the town is where you find the rich, while we are still stuck on the outskirts. It's time for those freedoms celebrated in the rest of the country to reach us too," Mpashi said outside a voting station in Zwelihle.

Carrying a self-made placard of Cyril Ramaphosa, Mpashi said he believed the ANC needed to win the province to allow for "proper" integration.

"When you drive into Hermanus, you see the posh houses, big plots, holiday homes by the sea. Why are we then hidden away, in the overcrowded townships and locations, away from opportunities, while the rich still reap all the benefits? What has changed in terms of the layout since 1994?"

Housing is a sensitive topic in Zwelihle, Mpashi says. Violent protests broke out last year in the coastal town as residents demanded serviced land to build their homes.

"South Africa belongs to all who live in it. Even Hermanus. We need a government that cares, that will see to the housing backlog and give people the dignity of their own homes. The DA hasn't been doing that."

'Politics is all talk, and talk is cheap'

Eric Jika points into the distance toward a beachside development, describing it as "evil", in contrast to the poverty he lives in.

"It is vulgar – bad, bad, bad – that we are living like this, while those people live in luxury from the money they made in apartheid, and are still benefiting from. We have nothing. How long will it take for us to catch up?" he asks.

"It's like we don't fit in here, into the picture the country paints of Hermanus. Whales and nature and richness. But here we are, growing old, poor and going nowhere."

One man, who asked to only be called "Fighter Charles", believed the EFF was the only party that had shown their commitment to "giving back the land".

"Politics is all talk, and talk is cheap. Who has shown that they are serious about sending the suffering of the black child? We need to back the red berets so that we can move forward."

On Wednesday afternoon, the streets of Zwelihle were full of dancing voters, wearing their party colours with pride.

According to locals, the area was an ANC stronghold.

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