Frustration over SA racial disparities builds as poll nears

Issue could dent ANC support in the election.
Over the past 25 years, the government has provided more than 4.7m homes to the elderly and the poor, but demand has outstripped supply. Picture: Shutterstock

After a decade of living in a tiny corrugated iron shack, Nyani Moloi was ecstatic when she was handed the keys to a two-bedroom brick house built by the government.

But the unemployed grandmother’s joy quickly turned to anger when she discovered the home has no running water or electricity; the toilet does not flush, and rain seeps through the walls.

“I am heartbroken by the condition of the house,” Moloi, 59, told Reuters as she pointed out damp patches in the home she shares with four grandchildren in the town of Bethlehem in Free State province.

The squalid conditions in a R150 million housing project known as Baken Park highlight how efforts by the governing African National Congress (ANC) to address persistent racial disparities in housing, land ownership and services have faltered, a generation after white minority rule ended in 1994.

It is an issue that could dent support for Africa’s oldest liberation party in elections next week for parliament and provincial legislatures, a vote that will determine the country’s next president.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who took office last year, has promised to accelerate land redistribution, improve service delivery and build a million houses over five years.

Political analysts say an ANC victory is all-but assured, but the party has been struggling to reverse dwindling support blamed in part on unfulfilled promises to improve the lives of millions of South Africa’s poorest people.

Public anger

In a number of townships across the country, residents have taken to the streets in recent months to demand land, houses, sanitation infrastructure, water and electricity.

Public anger has been aggravated by perceptions that some government officials and their business allies are growing rich from corruption.

A spokesman for the police’s elite “Hawks” unit said it was investigating allegations of tender irregularities in a number of municipal housing and other improvement projects but did not provide details.

ANC spokesman Dakota Legoete said the party was determined to root out corruption and had taken steps including setting up judicial enquiries.

But the party faces a potentially even more formidable challenge: South Africa’s economy has barely grown over the past decade and government revenue has come in below target in recent years, hampering the state’s efforts to address an array of social needs.

Housing projects like the one in Bethlehem must compete for resources with initiatives such as free education and social grants for millions of poor South Africans.

During the election campaign, Ramaphosa visited a township located within sight of South Africa’s main financial district where many people still live in shacks and sewage pools in the streets. Residents there had been staging protests for weeks over the poor conditions.

“Your message is very clear,” Ramaphosa told a packed stadium in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra. “We cannot allow our people to live among the filth that I have seen.”

Such assurances are not enough to persuade some voters, though. In Baken Park, Moloi, 59, doubts she would cast a ballot for the ANC again.

Two years after moving into her home, she is still without running water or electricity. Legally, she doesn’t own the house or the land it stands on: she has yet to receive a title deed for the property.

“When it comes to elections, they come and tell us everything and anything so that we can vote for them, but they do nothing for us,” Moloi said of the ANC’s candidates.

Broken promises

The ANC won the loyalty of millions for helping to deliver an end to decades of oppressive white rule, during which members of the black majority were forced into crowded urban townships and impoverished rural reserves with minimal public services.

But for many of those dispossessed under apartheid, the establishment of a vibrant all-race democracy has not translated into broad improvements in their living conditions.

Estimates vary, but the consensus is that most privately owned land remains in white hands making it a potent symbol of wider economic disparities.

The Baken Park housing project is part of a Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) introduced by the ANC in 1994 to alleviate poverty and inequality, including by providing subsidised houses to families earning less than R3 500 per month.

Over the past 25 years, the government has provided more than 4.7 million homes to the elderly and the poor, according to the national Department of Human Settlements. But officials say demand has outstripped supply due to rapid urbanisation, resulting in a shortage of 2.1 million homes. 

Moloi, a widowed mother of four, lived most of her life in rural parts of the province before relocating to a shanty town near Bethlehem in 2007 to be closer to job opportunities.

She thought life would be easier when she moved into a home with modern conveniences such as a toilet and kitchen, but said it hadn’t changed much.

“I cook with a gas stove because there is no electricity,” she said. “I cook with it outside. When the rain pours outside, I get drenched in water.”

The housing project lies about 4 km (2.5 miles) from Bethlehem’s town centre, which has upmarket suburbs that were once exclusively for white people but have since opened up to all who can afford to buy property there.

From a distance, the rows of brick homes look like a big improvement over the nearby shanty town known as Captain Charles, where Moloi used to live. Residents there said about 100 households share four pit toilets and a single water tap.

With no functioning sewage system, Maloi must use a water bucket to flush her toilet. Some of her neighbours prefer to dig pit latrines.

Residents said authorities assured them that water and electricity would be provided to the homes within two or three months of occupation, but nothing happened.

A spokeswoman for the Free State’s human settlements department, Senne Bogatsu, said authorities recognised that “not all basic services could be completed in time”.

A new contractor has been hired to rectify the problems and taps installed outside homes as a temporary measure, she said.

Construction on the project, which began in 2013, continues with 843 houses out of a target of 1 000 built so far, Bogatsu said. 

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Methinks the authors should go to the DRC for a few weeks and witness first hand what real African poverty and squalid conditions look like!!!!

The people who so vociferously protest have had their freedom handed to them 25 years ago and they have proven that they cannot govern themselves properly or even do anything for themselves !!!!

The lesson we (should) learn is that you cannot ‘uplift’ people by giving them things. What they need is opportunity. So many houses and grants and BEE jobs later and there is more poor people than ever in South Africa. This article illustrates how someone with a free house is neither grateful nor uplifted by it for more than a couple of weeks. Had the government given this same person a job, on the other hand, she would have money to buy a house AND all the other things she complains about. Not only that, but she would have the joy and dignity of earning a living and her grandchildren would have hope of a future and would grow up in a house where it is normal to work for a living vs complaining about ‘the government’ not giving big enough grants and nice enough houses. Whoever votes for a party that promises to ‘give’ them things (ie land, houses, money) will always be poor. ‘Wealthy’ people did not get rich by living on hand outs from government.

The last sentence … read “The black empty suit”.

A grandmother with 4 grandchildren. Where is her husband and the father of the children?

A great cause of poverty worldwide is men making babies and then abandoning the mother and children.

This is not Jan van Riebeck’s fault, nor can it be blamed on apartheid. It’s a lack of morals and morale in society and it’s the fault of the men who are doing it.

But our government makes the mistake of encouraging this behaviour by promising to build free houses and to dish out child grants in the expectation that these new children will one day become voting fodder for them.

No society can succeed on this model and no society has the resources to dish out free stuff to vast sections of its population.

So yes, the free stuff promises come up empty and everybody gets annoyed: the people who are not getting their free stuff promised to them, and the diminishing taxpayers who are ground down to pay for it.

It’s just another example of the failure of populism which now laces the manifestos of nearly every party in these elections.

Socialism at its best (Populism = changing the narrative, 180 degrees)
16 million people on social (socialism) grants but only 4 million tax payers (capitalism), so every taxpayer feeds 4 additional starving persons. No need to teach a man how to fish because they get free fish everyday… Communism = Socialism, [A]frican [N]ational [C]ommunism (Congress) – #TaxRevolt inevitable

The truth is that the enormity of the task of reducing inequality is large enough without having to contend with ANC corruption, policy uncertainty, government mismanagement, wasteful expenditure, theft, 10m plus illegal immigrants, poor education levels, etc etc.

So, given the enormity of the task it is virtually impossible for the ANC to do and even more so with their terrible track record in other above mentioned areas.

More race baiting. Even if you took everything from every other race in sa then black people would still be in townships. Half would be stolen and the other half wouldn’t make a dent.

The problems of these people is because trillions have been stolen that should have been used for education, healthcare, transport and security. Nothing to do with race and it would be nice if moneyweb would not print such garbage.

“Legal plunder has two roots: One of them, as I have said before, is in human greed; the other is in false philanthropy.”
― Frédéric Bastiat, The Law

People look around them and see inequality. These naive and ignorant people then decide to fund their philanthropic feelings, not with their own assets, but with other people’s assets. For this, they turn to the law. They use the legislator to take from those who worked and saved, to redistribute their assets to those who did not work and save.

The results of this false philanthropy are even worse than for state capture and corruption. The criminal justice system can act against corruption, but the legal framework itself was corrupted in this naive drive to bring equality. Now, the judiciary and police force are used to enforce plunder. Since property is nothing but the remuneration for the application of our faculties, property-owners will apply these very same faculties to safeguard of property from the corrupted legal system. This phenomenon is known as “capital flight”, “brain drain”, “investment strike”, “move to tax-havens” etc.

You can’t keep a good dog down.

If the ANC has been moderately effective those frustrations would not exist. What is really sad is many still feel like victims of the past and have no sense of a better future. The ANC should be ashamed and anyone thinking of voting for them next week must realise a vote for the ANC will not change anything for them if the last 25 years and particularly the calamitous Zuma era is anything to go by.

Please note, neither the ANC/DA/EFF or any party gave nothing. It’s actually the tax payers (private & companies) that paid for all these house & infrastructure. These parties only facilitated the use of these funds. So next time before political parties make very venomous comments about SA’s tax payers, to gain votes, remember who pays for everything, even if the government of the day make national loans to build towns & infrastructure, ultimately the tax payers still pay for ALL of it. Case & point Eskom, the tax payers will pay for those so called new power-plants and its associated problems.

Now that the tax revenue has reduced resultant from the weak business realities, resulting in reduced numbers of tax paying workers & small business closing down etc. there should be more awareness as to whom actually pays for this countries expenses!

Just look north to all the failed states & associated consequences.

Hello Keminsky: Like political parties, companies also have NO money of their own to pay taxes and anything else with. Only individuals have money. So, all taxes are paid from your and my pockets.

Kem, you are correct.
But the ANC loves to TAKE taxpayers money and all parties in government direct how the taxpayers’ money is spent

Isaiah 42:22-25

[22]But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.

[23]Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come?

[24]Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law.

[25]Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.

These true Israelites have forgotten the promise they made with their God at Mt Sinai, until they come back to Jesus’ teachings, they will remain under a curse as written in Deuteronomy 28:15-68.

End of comments.





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