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'Foreigners have more rights than we do,' Ramaphosa told at Upington imbizo

Amanda Khoza Presidency reporter
Residents of Northern Cape municipalities spent the day with President Cyril Ramaphosa to voice concerns about a number of issues, including service delivery.
Residents of Northern Cape municipalities spent the day with President Cyril Ramaphosa to voice concerns about a number of issues, including service delivery.
Image: GCIS

Thousands of residents gathered at Upington's Mxolisi Dicky Jacobs Stadium in the Northern Cape on Friday for an imbizo with President Cyril Ramaphosa. 

One was Shirly Mabhidela, who told Ramaphosa she has a 10-year-old child with a disability. “My child is in a mainstream school because we could not find a special needs school in the Northern Cape. I have been to Cape Town and Gauteng looking for a school for my child,” she said.

Mabhidela said she relies on her child’s disability grant to survive. “I have to pay R2,500 for school fees. Where do I find this money? I do not work?”

Her cries to community leaders fall on deaf ears. “They will be sitting inside their house and can see you at the gate, but they send a child to tell you, ‘Pa is nie hier nie’ [Father isn't here]. I am willing to sweep the streets for my child. I will grab any opportunity with both hands,” said a teary Mabhidela.

Directing her criticism at basic education minister Angie Motshekga, she said children with disabilities are the butt of jokes in mainstream schools.

To police minister Bheki Cele, she said: “Here in South Africa it’s the foreign nationals who have more rights. They are selling drugs.”

Ramaphosa spent the day listening to service delivery issues affecting communities.

The province has five districts — Frances Baard, John Taolo Gaetsewe, Namakwa, Pixley ka Seme and ZF Mgcawu, where the event took place.

Human settlements minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said the cabinet rolled out a district development model (DDM) after realising there is a need for urgent intervention to improve service delivery.

“All 44 districts and eight metros have successfully launched the DDM,” said Kubayi, adding the model puts into practice a social compact.

“The province contributes 2.2% to the national GDP. The economy of the Northern Cape is dependent primarily on mining and agriculture. Tourism and agro-processing are potential growth sectors in the province.

“Poverty continues to be a challenge, as it is across our country.”

Other challenges include:

  • a lack of reliable water and electricity supply;
  • high unemployment;
  • poor roads infrastructure;
  • municipalities owing Eskom money; and
  • theft and vandalism of infrastructure.

Community member Maria Snyders said she had a matric certificate but there were no job opportunities in the municipality.

“They do not think about us. We live in an informal house without water or a toilet. We need services because we are also voting. Mr President, please make us a priority because we also matter,” she said.

Maria Kok said: “The NGOs in the Northern Cape are struggling for a grant. I was lucky to be covered by the municipality because I look after the elderly, but other places do not have money.”

When told her three minutes speaking time was up, she said: “Hy is die president van die land, jy moet wag," [He is the president of the land, you must wait] to loud applause.

Traditional leader Charles Alexandra told Ramaphosa the Khoi and San people have a land problem. “None of us leaders have land and we are the first in line. We have royal houses, kings and queens, chiefs, but we do not have land.

“As the Khoi and San we feel like foreigners in our country ... The foreigners have more rights than we do in South Africa. They have more businesses, houses and land.”


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