Balfour residents hope for change

For many of the residents of Balfour the local government elections are a reminder of the promises made and not fulfilled in previous years.

Less than two years ago, the area of Balfour in Mpumalanga had been a scene of violent protests as residents of this community barricaded roads demanding efficient delivery of services and an end to the high unemployment rate in the area.

Although some claim nothing has been done about their grievances, it has not stopped them from forming queues in the various voting stations around the township yesterday.

“I want to make sure that there is change in this area,” says, Isaac Motaung casting his eyes to the pothole ridden road. “The councillor for this place is ‘sleg’ (bad) and we don’t want him any more.”

Motaung becomes visibly upset when he talks about Balfour mayor Lefty Tsotetsi whom he believes has played a major role in contributing to problems that plagued the township.

“When he is supposed to deliver, he gives empty promises and he does not even bother to come and talk to the people but instead he accuses the community of not being educated,” he says.

“That is why I have decided that I will not be voting for the ANC but instead I will be voting for an independent candidate,” shouts a woman nearby. “The ANC has not done its work for the past five years, look what is happening now; our children can’t even find jobs.”

Not far from where the queue is steadily progressing, a group of youth who have declared their support for another independent candidate in the area, Charles Ntsimbi, closely watch the proceedings from the table that they have set up outside voting station.

Musa Zwane is one of the people who are hoping that a vote for Ntsimbi will bring much needed change to their township.

“We want Lefty to go because ever since that man took up his position he has only been here once and that was when the people from Morning Live came to interview him,” says Zwane as the rest of the group present murmur in agreement as they watch one of the many police cars that have been keeping a close eye on the area since voting began.

“Right now I am not even scared of what may happen by speaking out because we are already used to getting late night calls and when you answer you only hear heavy breathing.”

With residents each advocating for their preferred candidate, the outcome of results is, however, not yet certain, but it does create a glimmer of hope for the older people who have joined the queue that some day the youth who bide their time by standing in street corners will be among those counted in the employment statistics.

The results in only two of the six wards in Balfour have been confirmed. Both were won by the ANC.

Tsotetsi could not be reached for comment.

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