Solidarity: In De-Duer the people say ‘No delivery no dignity, no vote!’

15 02 2009

Forgotten by Freedom
-Service Delivery Protest-March in De-Duer, Meyerton organised by the Zakheni Land Defenders Organisation-

We, the people of De-Duer, have been forgotten by the government. We have been abandoned and left to die in the same conditions in which some of us grew up in, on these racist white farms, decades ago.

Many of us bought the land we are living on after the 1994 elections, and now the estate agents are coming with stories and trying to expropriate our land. They put our stands up for auction without even telling us, and people are forcibly removed, their homes destroyed and their possessions thrown onto the streets or stolen just as in the days of apartheid. We demand an end to evictions and forced removals.

One of our biggest grievances is the issue of water. We do not have access to sufficient drinking water, as we cannot afford more than the 25 litres per person per day. If we use more than that, which is essential to a dignified life, our water is cut off and we are made to pay a penalty, and told that we have illegal connections. This happens every month. Without adequate water we, especially the women, cannot live in dignity because we do not have enough water to clean our clothes and for sanitation. We live in a farming area and yet none of us can cultivate any food to eat because we cannot afford the water. We demand an end to cut-offs and penalties, and free adequate and clean drinking water for all.

There are no schools in our area, and our children must travel long distances to school. This is dangerous and expensive, and it wastes time that they could rather spend studying and playing. The transport fees should rather be used to ensure that they are well-fed in order to concentrate. We need schools in our community, close enough for our children to walk to.

There are also no recreational facilities or sports fields for the youth, nothing to keep them off the streets and out of trouble. We need recreational facilities to keep people active, healthy and away from crime and alcohol abuse.

There is only one, recently built sub-standard clinic in our community. This is not sufficient. We need at least one well-equipped clinic, staffed by qualified doctors and nurses who know and care about what they are doing. We need this to be free.

Linked to the issue of clinics, there are no ambulances in our community. When someone is sick or injured the ambulances do not arrive to take them to hospital, and people die waiting for them. The government must allocate more ambulances to our area.

Some people in De-Duer do not have ID books because their racist white former-bosses would not even give them a day off work in order to go to the Department of Home Affairs to apply for an ID. Because of this they cannot get jobs, open bank accounts or qualify for RDP houses and government grants. The Department of Home Affairs must send a mobile branch to De-Duer to process ID book applications, and indeed this must be done in all poor communities across the country. While they are here they must process immigrants’ applications for asylum, work permits, visas and so on.

When we need them, the police are nowhere to be found. The police are xenophobic and only come into De-Duer to harass, solicit bribes from and arrest the immigrants in our community. This is unacceptable. The immigrants in De-Duer are as much a part of the community as anyone else, they are our brothers and sisters. We demand an immediate end to corruption and the police harassment of the immigrant community.

On Monday 16th February 2009 the people of De-Duer, under the banner of the Zakheni Land Defenders Organisation, will be marching to the Municipality in Meyerton to remind the government that we are not dead, that we are alive and prepared to fight for our rights to dignity, development and service delivery. The march will depart from De-Duer to Meyerton at 09h00, and will gather at the Meyerton Train Station between 09h30 and 10h30 before proceeding to the municipality to hand over our memorandum. We invite the media to attend our protest-march and handing over of the memorandum in order to show the country that we will not be forgotten.

If there are not tangible signs that service delivery and development are underway in De-Duer we have resolved not to vote in this year’s elections, or in any elections until we are satisfied that our demands are being attended to. Not only will we not vote if the government attempts to ignore our demands as it has ignored us, but we will continue and intensify our struggle for service delivery, dignity and development, and call on all poor communities across the country to do the same. A government that is voted in by a minority is a minority government the same as that of the Nationalist Party, and deserves to be treated with the same contempt.

We don’t want promises, we want delivery. Service delivery means dignity. No delivery, no dignity, no vote. We urge poor communities across the country to adopt a similar attitude.

Unlike the ruling party, we have not forgotten what we struggled for. The struggle for freedom is the struggle for dignity and justice. Until we have that we will continue to struggle.
Issued by Zakheni Land Defenders Organisation, De-Duer

For comment please call Rose Msimango on 076 265-7007 or James Makhubu on 078 156-6949

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