The fierce battle for the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality was evident this week as both the DA and the ANC deployed their political heavyweights, who are making repeated visits to the Eastern Cape metro.
ANC mayoral candidate Danny Jordaan, supported by ANC head of organising and campaigns Fikile Mbalula, were welcomed by jubilant volunteers on one side of the street, and a group of protesters burnt tyres on the other side of the same street in Ward 29.
The protesters blockaded all roads leading into the neighbouring areas of Booysen Park and Chetty.
Jordaan’s motorcade was forced to use alternative routes to access their destination, due to the blockades.
Hundreds of residents from neighbouring Qunu informal settlement wanted to talk to Jordaan about their plight.
They waved placards and sang freedom songs, saying they had been neglected for far too long.
“We have no houses, no water and no toilets,” read the placards.
Head of infrastructure, water and sanitation at the municipality, Andile Mfunda, together with ANC Eastern Cape MPL Christian Martin engaged the protesters prior to Jordaan’s arrival.
After the engagements, Mfunda made a promise to follow up their problems in a visit to their area, together with head of housing, councillor Nomvuselelo Tontsi.
Resident Nosicelo Jam-Jam said they do not use the bucket toilets because the municipal employees who collect them force them to pay.
“They force us to pay R20 per house for our buckets to be emptied. We cannot afford this because we are poor and they are taking advantage of us, so we resorted to living without the buckets and relieve ourselves in the bush,” said Jam-Jam.
“In the bush, we are in danger of snakes and our children are in greater danger,” she said.
“I will not vote because I am not sure that these politicians will attend to our problems after all these years of empty promises.”
Mfunda told City Press that he will not entertain allegations without proof.
“These people just told me that they have no buckets in their community, so which buckets are they now talking about? I have been a councillor for 10 years, I know for a fact that people lie in situations like this,” he said.
Jordaan attended to the protesters after his arrival and promised them that he would follow up on their discussions with the relevant councillors.
“The municipality has a budget allocation of R603 million for building new houses. We will build 6 000 houses from this budget,” said Jordaan.
“There is an interim solution for water and sanitation and there is money set aside to resolve problems like this one,” he said.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane braved the historically ANC strongholds and conducted door-to-door campaigns, while the ANC kept its focus on retaining its current wards.
In Ward 28, which is currently an ANC ward, Maimane told supporters that apartheid was a battle that was collectively defeated.
“Apartheid was not a battle for only black people; different races came together towards a common goal,” he said.
“It cannot be right for [President Jacob] Zuma to say that no self-respecting black person can vote for the DA, or lead the party.
“This is not what Nelson Mandela taught South Africans,” said Maimane.
“And now for Zuma to tell us that blacks must be on one side, whites must be on the other; to me that says he is dividing the country on a race agenda,” he said.
“What is true is that even in the Bible, Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, but did not see the promised land.”
He said the ANC needed to realise that it too would be the Moses of today, as the DA would take the country forward to the promised land.