In a late last push for votes in the Western Cape, the ANC and the DA were embroiled in war of words after President Cyril Ramaphosa visited Mitchells Plain, Gugulethu and Khayelitsha on Friday.
The president told residents in Mitchells Plain he remained hopeful the ANC could topple the DA in the province and encouraged residents to vote for the party that could take the province forward.
Ramaphosa was in Portlands, Mitchells Plain, on the election campaign trail and took the opportunity to listen to the grievances of residents in the area.
“It is a joy and a pleasure for me to be here amongst you. I understand very well the issues that you have raised. We are filled with hope and confidence that the ANC will be victorious,” said Ramaphosa, to much applause from the dwindling crowd in the Portland Indoor Centre.
The election rally had been scheduled to start at 10am yesterday, but the country’s number one citizen arrived only after noon.
By that time many Muslim ANC supporters had left the venue to attend Friday midday prayers.
Heideveld resident Vanessa Adriaanse told Ramaphosa that their pleas were falling on deaf ears, referring to the DA-led city council.
“You won’t believe what’s happening. We have old people who are living on cat and dog food. We are complaining to the DA about the DA. The DA is stealing money and they are not doing what they are supposed to be doing,” said Adriaanse to much cheering from the crowd.
Ramaphosa said, “I am listening”, and he was seen making notes of each speaker’s concerns so that he would able to answer each person’s questions.
Most of the complaints from the residents focused on corruption, housing shortages, poverty, the high cost of education, drugs and gangsterism.
DA Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela said the claims that the party was doing nothing for the people of Mitchells Plain had been made by “ANC people who have been planted there to say those things”.
“I was in Mitchells Plain last week and the people were very happy,” said Madikizela.
Madikizela said the DA-led government last week turned the soil for a housing project that will see 440 new homes built in Mitchells Plain.
“The Western Cape is one large construction sight. Housing is not an issue that will be solved overnight, but people must not create the false impression that nothing is being done.”
On the issue of crime he said the national government needed to supply the Western Cape with more police officers. “The people of Mitchells Plain are asking the right person about crime,” said Madikizela. He even went as far as to say that the link between crime and poverty is “out of touch with reality”.
“Crime bosses are not poor and this is one thing that people must understand,” Madikizela said.
On the invitation to the rally residents were encouraged to bring along their “high” water bills, letters of arrears and letters of demand with a promise that the president himself would personally intervene. According to the ANC, it had appointed a lawyer to take on the city council around the issue of the “high” bills.
“This is a promise we are making. You are being punished after you have been saving water. This is hugely unfair,” said Ramaphosa to rousing applause.
“You will be surprised to know that gang activity has decreased by 24% since we launched the anti-gang unit. Hulle (gangsters and drug dealers) moet tronk toe gaan. We have a very active police minister and he is chasing down gangsters,” said Ramaphosa, much to the delight of ANC supporters.
Mayor Dan Plato fired back, saying: “I have had a number of engagements with the communities of Mitchells Plain in which I communicated that more than 6000 housing opportunities have been identified. We have allocated more than R2billion towards housing for the new financial year to deliver to our residents. When it comes to crime, I have already allocated an additional R165million so that we can recruit 100 additional law enforcement officers, more CCTV cameras, and patrol vehicles,” said Plato. He added that in the new financial year they would be recruiting and training 200 more law enforcement officers for Cape Town.
“The SAPS, however, remains the primary law enforcement agency in the country and I hope that the residents asked the president to speak to his national police minister about addressing the 4500 police officer shortage in the Western Cape that they refuse to address,” said Plato.
Adriaanse brought up the problem of residents who have been living in rented houses for most of their lives and accused the DA of deliberately excluding residents from accessing houses.
“I know an elderly lady who has been paying rent for 62 years,” said Adriaanse.
Ramaphosa assured residents that an order had been issued from national government that people must be given title deeds and that there is “no such thing as the independent province of the Western Cape”.
Manenberg resident Yusuf Gelderbloem said there was “corruption” in the allocation of houses in his area.
“People were given erfs and subsidies but now other people are living in those houses,” said Gelderbloem. “We have proof and we are handing over our proof to the president today.”
Ikeraam Cedras, 66, said he had attended the rally to hear about Ramaphosa’s plans for the Western Cape. “I also brought my bills and I believe the president can sort it out,” said Cedras.
Yvonne Cloete, who has been on the housing waiting list for 17 years said she believed that the ANC was the only party that “can give her a house”.
“We know that money has been given for houses, but why are the effects not felt on the ground? This province is too one-sided, too DA,” said Cloete.
Nazeem Sampson, another Manenberg resident, said the “corruption” in the Western Cape was a crime against the state.
“They (DA) must be brought to book and we believe the truth will come out,” said Sampson.
Asked about the chances of an ANC victory in next week’s elections, Cloete and Cedras believed the ANC has a 50/50 chance of winning while Sampson said, “we are in it to win it” and Gelderbloem, after being pushed for short and quick answer replied, “they have a chance”.
Many residents complained to Ramaphosa that they had held many meetings with Plato, but that the meeting had yielded no results.