Let there be light

SWITCHED ON: Minister Buyelwa Sonjica connects a child-headed home to electricity. 22/02/09. Pic. Mhlaba Memela. © Sowetan.
SWITCHED ON: Minister Buyelwa Sonjica connects a child-headed home to electricity. 22/02/09. Pic. Mhlaba Memela. © Sowetan.

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Leaders of the IFP and ANC put aside their differences at the poverty stricken eMondlo township, northern KwaZulu-Natal, to fulfil the government's mandate to deliver services.

Minister of Minerals and Energy Buyelwa Sonjica, Minister of Safety and Security Nathi Mthethwa, IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi, and MEC for local government and housing Mike Mabuyakhulu took part in the electricity switch-on for the area on Saturday.

A high-powered government delegation descended on the province on Friday to conduct electricity switch-ons in Umkhanyakude and Zululand districts.

The plan is aimed at accelerating the provision of electricity in the province.

The area came alive as the leaders showed unity in action under the blistering sun.

The electricity switch-on began at Lethimpilo Youth Care Centre that cares for orphans.

The team also switched on electricity switch in a child headed family in the area, and gave the impoverished children electrical appliances and groceries.

Hlakaniphile Mthembu, 25, had been looking after four children after their mother died in 2004. The family stays in a oneroom mud house.

Tearful Mthembu said she had been physically abused since her mother's death.

"Our life has been very difficult but some of the neighbours have been coming to our rescue by giving us food.

"I'm very happy that my government was able to see my plight," she said.

Mabuyakhulu promised that his department would build a safe home for Mthembu in two weeks.

"We will make sure that these children get a safe home. And in two weeks the builders will be on site," he said.

Mabuyakhulu said KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Eastern Cape provinces were identified as lagging behind in electricity provision.

"But from 2004 we have made a dramatic change to many households.

"We still face challenges, but we have provided more that 1,5 million to 2 million households with electricity and 74 percent now have electricity," he said.

Sonjica said electricity is a necessity and is part of poverty alleviation. "We have committed ourselves to eradicate the backlogs by 2012.

"Some of the people had dubbed this province a dark province in the country.

"But we are correcting that," she said.

Sonjica said if many rural areas have water and electricity, investors will be attracted.

"This province has a potential to contribute more to our economy," she said.

Sonjica added that her department had invested more than R40million for electrification in many areas under Abaqulusi municipality.