City Press: ANC Fails the People,,186-187_2364884,00.html

26/07/2008 19:14 – (SA)
ANC fails the people
By Jackie Mapiloko, Sabelo Ndlangisa, Piet Rampedi

WHILE ANC leaders dither and their open warfare for personal power dominates the media, it is ordinary people who are bearing the brunt of poor service delivery throughout the country.

Thousands live a life of indignity in shacks because their RDP houses have not been completed.

A City Press investigation has found that despite R2 billion being set aside three years ago to finish building houses, more than 60 000 of those on which construction had started had not been completed.

Despite Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu setting a deadline for developers to complete projects abandoned since 1994, five of the nine provinces failed to meet the March 2005 cut-off date.

KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng made the deadline, but Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and Western Cape are yet to finish more than 60 000 incomplete houses.

Josephine Manyama, of Extension 44 outside Polokwane, has been living in hope that the foundation slabs laid down in her backyard will eventually become a house.

Manyama, who has lived in a shack for the past six years, was overjoyed when developers put a foundation down in her yard in 2005.

Her hopes and dreams of moving out of the shack into a house were shortlived, however, because the developer disappeared without any more work being done on the house.

Manyama is still sharing her rickety one-roomed shack with her family of five, and she does not know the contractor’s whereabouts.

“My shack is collapsing, as you can see. We don’t sleep on rainy days or when it is windy,” she says.

It is not just the housing sector that is failing citizens. Many people have no access to health services – including ambulances.

The country’s emergency services are in crisis, with the majority of provinces canvassed by City Press admitting that their ambulances cannot service communities properly.

Provinces also do not have the staff or equipment to kit out the ambulances they do have.

Limpopo, for example, operates with just 25% of the paramedical staff and ambulances it needs.

The situation is not much better in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, North West and Gauteng.

Residents, especially those who live in remote areas, tell horror stories about ambulances that do not arrive.

# Lufuno Mulamu delivered a baby in the back of a bakkie because an ambulance failed to arrive. The baby died.

# In early labour, Andiswa Ndindibala had to walk for two hours down a rocky mountain road to get to a taxi that would drop her at a place where an ambulance could pick her up.

Political analyst Lesiba Teffo, of the University of Limpopo, says service delivery has long been neglected because of infighting among ANC members.

“They have been fighting all along and neglecting service delivery, and their fights have to do with removing others from power in order to occupy those positions and access tenders, contracts and jobs.

“So they spend their time on their skirmishes, to the point that they have had little time even to spend their budgets,” said Teffo.

ANC president Jacob Zuma warned on Friday that open hostility between ANC members, and the character assassinations which accompany the pursuit of positions, were the signs of “ill health of the organisation”.

Zuma, speaking at an ANC conference in Free State, also said using money to buy votes – one way to dislodge the competition from office – “not only slowly erodes (harms) the ANC; it kills it”.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said a few weeks ago that the infighting was likely to continue for a while as members contested provincial leadership positions.

Teffo points out that for as long as the state’s politicians’ eyes are set on positions, citizens such as Lufuno and Manyama will have to wait for the essential services that are already overdue to them.