By Barbara Hollands
AS A light breeze swirls garbage around the austere buildings of central Bhisho, meandering goats rifle through uncollected rubbish piled up in the square surrounded by the imposing Tyamzashe Building that houses the provincial treasury, housing, public works and other state departments responsible for running the province.
In an untended flower bed outside the treasury offices and just metres from the Buffalo City Metro (BCM) building, a tap runs endlessly. Amateur plumbing attempts involving a rock and rope have failed to stem the flow of precious water. A nearby fruit hawker says the tap has been leaking for more than a month.
Grey, built-up, soulless and suffering from serious neglect, the bleak town, founded in the 1970s as the capital of the former Ciskei homeland, can hardly be compared to South Africa’s other provincial capitals.
When Weekend Post visited Bhisho this week, angry locals – some of whom are employed by the province – voiced their disgust about the state of the administrative capital.
“This is said to be the capital, but there is not even a shopping complex here because Pick n Pay and OK closed down years ago and the buildings are now rented by government departments. Business-wise there is nothing here,” said a health department clerk who asked not to be named.
He accused BCM of not cutting grass in front of his house and of failing to warn residents of frequent power outages in the residential areas around the town.
Health department general assistant Thami Mpolongwana said Bhisho was “doomed”.
“It used to look like a capital during the times of Lennox Sebe and Oupa Gqozo. It was marvellous, superb. People had jobs so there were no people loitering and it was clean. There were nice trees and flowers, but now it is doomed,” Mpolongwana said.
“Only one in five streetlights works, there is nowhere to park, the pavements are crumbling and there is nowhere to shop, so we have to go to King William’s Town.”
Bhisho-born Xolisani Ncamiso, 26, complained of a lack of job opportunities in the town.
“There are no jobs for young people here, so I am unemployed.”
Dimbaza resident Eric Nkwali, who like scores of others was in Bhisho this week to queue at the SARS caravan, described Bhisho as “a dirty capital”.
“You can see the rubbish everywhere. It is not right.”
This is a version of an article that first appeared in the print edition of Weekend Post on Saturday July 28 2012.