By Sello Ali Tleane
Several years ago the people of Vuwani in Limpopo asked the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) to create new boundaries which would allow them to secede from the newly-formed Malamulela municipality which brought them together with Shangaan-speaking communities.
They demanded their own stand-alone municipality and threatened that if their demand was not met, they would burn down the schools in their own villages.
This threat was later carried out when schools were indeed burned down en masse in Vuwani.
Since then, the learners of that area have battled to access education which is a necessity for their future and have had to travel long distances to other parts of the province to complete their education.
Since then, the nation has witnessed a culture of burning down of public property every time certain communities feel that their demands are not being met timeously by authorities. We have witnessed the destruction of crucial public amenities such as clinics, libraries and traffic lights (robots). For many years now Tembisa has experienced the effects of this practice.
The demands of the people are very noble and important and will always be taken extremely seriously by government, primarily because this democratic state was established purely for the express purpose of responding to the demands of the masses. Government will never undermine the demands of the people because there is no government without the people.
The only challenge that needs to be addressed is how government can respond to all demands of various communities at the same time. Because of this situation, some communities tend to think that government does not care about them. This is not true. This people’s government loves its people very much and if it was practically possible, it would address all outstanding community issues immediately, for example, electricity.
The Ekurhuleni municipality took a conscious decision to supply electricity to all residents living in informal areas through the reblocking programme. If the municipality had an unlimited number of technical personnel and financial resources, it would pounce on all informal areas of Tembisa and switch on the power immediately. Unfortunately, it can only start somewhere, which culminates in some of the other areas accusing it of discrimination. All informal areas will soon be electrified.
We therefore humbly plead with communities to exercise a little bit of patience and tolerance. You will all soon enjoy prepaid electricity in your own homes. In the meantime, we request our communities to refrain from destroying public property in anger.
If you have a particular demand that you want to be met by government, but then go on to destroy another public resource, instead of having one problem, you will end up with two demands.
This means that government will need to fund-raise twice as much to meet your original demand as well as the one you created in anger. Therefore, destroying what essentially belongs to the people is counter-productive. Government is just the custodian of amenities that actually belong to the people. What we perceive as government property is actually the people’s property.
Government is never worried about which organisation you belong to. As long as you are a South African and resident of Tembisa, you qualify to demand and receive goods and services from government.
We appeal to our brothers and sisters to think twice before destroying traffic lights or burning down schools or clinics.
Our children might emulate our destructive habits, and we are already noticing some learners fighting with or beating up their teachers or peers right there in class.
Violence begets violence.
You cannot turn it on and off. Once it becomes a norm in society, it becomes irreversible.
If we really love ourselves, our children and country, let us please stop destroying things.
We hereby pledge that all community demands shall soon be met. Please be patient.