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Former Wits SRC President Mcebo Dlamini. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
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tenacious mama

By Canaan Mdletshe | May 28, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

MBAZI Dlamini is uneducated, cannot speak English or even write her name, but her one-woman campaign has finally started to bring government services to poverty-stricken Ceza.

Her tenacity has already brought 150 government homes "fit for kings and queens" to the hamlet.

Ceza is one the poorest areas in rural KwaZulu-Natal, where running water and electricity are considered luxuries.

"We have nothing. Electricity, sanitation and clinics are something we hear about on the radio," Dlamini says. "But that does not mean we should fold our hands and wait for the government."

Born in 1959, the mother of six children has no income and says she knows all about hunger and poverty.

"When you live the life of a poor person you understand the pain," she says. "You don't have to know how to write your name, speak fancy English words or have money to help your community."

So Dlamini decided in the early 1990s that she would do something instead of sitting back and waiting.

"I didn't have a chance to go to school but that has not stopped me from dreaming big. I started canvassing for houses in our area in 1996."

She went from one government department to the next - asking questions and making her case.

"Some of them closed their doors in my face because I was a nobody," she recalls. "But that didn't stop me from trying because I had this passion for seeing development taking place in our area."

After months of frustration her dream came true when the provincial government approved the building of RDP houses at Ceza.

"It was not an easy road. I would have meetings with these white and black people who use fancy English words.

"I would sit quietly and when my time came to present myself I would speak in isiZulu and they would listen."

She was overjoyed when the housing department approved the first houses.

"But I didn't realise that still more challenges lay ahead. I was told they were going to build matchbox houses. I refused. I could not allow such a situation. We have this culture of extended families in our area, like all Zulus, in which we live with families."

So Dlamini continued to trudge from one office to the next until the contractors and officials finally agreed to build bigger houses.

"It's not easy, especially if you are uneducated. People look at you and wonder who is this person. I had to persevere and today we have houses fit for kings and queens," she says with pride.

"I earn no money doing what I do. But I sleep at night knowing that I have made a difference for my community."


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