Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

Parliament's bid to gather the views of rural women about what democracy means to them has yielded mixed results. Many criticised the government, but some said democracy had improved their lives.

Speaker of parliament Baleka Mbete said at the launch of the Amazwi Abesifazane report that 311 women from impoverished parts of Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and Western Cape had sewn quilt pieces depicting their feelings about democracy.

Mbete said women were also encouraged to sew quilt pieces about the most memorable day in their lives after it became clear that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission had "only scratched the surface" for women.

"Most women talked at the TRC not about how they had been violated under apartheid, but about what had happened to their husbands and sons who had fallen into the hands of the security police," Mbete said.

Women chose mainly to sew pictures depicting their feelings about democracy.

Anne Rhode from Stellenbosch, whose quilt piece depicted her desire to uplift the youth, said: "We hear that money has been given to the youth, but it never reaches the poor areas."

Martha Jacobs of Northern Cape said: "Many of the poor do not benefit from democracy. The ablution facilities were built by the previous regime."

Nomboniso Mbanxa is from Eastern Cape and her picture showed someone walking a long distance.

She was happy to be rid of her paraffin stove in 2004, but "because I am a person living with a disability, I do not see the effects of democracy".

Trudy Jooste from Western Cape is glad that she received an RDP house after 1998 and that toilets and doctors' rooms were no longer segregated.

Bohutsana Kiet from Northern Cape appreciates the social grants, "but service at health centres is appalling because adults and the illiterates are not treated with respect".