Adopted in Kliptown in 1955, the Freedom Charter and its demands became a rallying point for many in the struggle against apartheid. Sixty one years later, the Charter has consistently been at the centre of key theoretical and political debates.
When Kliptown residents see different political parties flooding their area, informal settlement residents of the iconic Kliptown in the South of Johannesburg don’t need to look at their calendar to confirm that it is election season.
On the 30th of June 2016 during the commemoration week of the Freedom Charter they waited patiently for Jacob Zuma to address them but he never came. No reason was given as he opted to campaign in another informal settlement nearby called Thembelihle.
“I think the leadership of this country is embarrassed to face us. They made many promises to us and none of them have come to fruition. We only see them during this time,” sadly said one of the residents, Johannes Mthimkhulu (66) of Ward 22.
“You see the main problem here is houses. When houses are built, you see the government allocating them to other people not from Kliptown. So how do you expect me to vote? I wonder if my vote still counts. I’m enough with lies,” he said.
In the same week that Zuma was supposed to visit them, young people held their national youth parliament in the marquee near Walter Sisulu Square and were addressed by top political figures. Other political parties like Economic Freedom Fighters and the Democratic Alliance were the only ones campaigning visibly inside the community.
Ironically, in Ward 19 lies a Kliptown informal settlement called Freedom Charter, an eyesore away from the ideals of the charter.
According to one of the community activists, Sandile Mzongo he said this area is home to almost 10,000 people who are in dire need of the most basic services.
“We are using illegally connected electricity. Crime is high and there aren’t enough recreational activities for young people. The local clinic is far from the people,” he said and adding that it is very difficult to have a meeting with their Ward Councillor.
Makhumalo Ngxaphayi (56) another resident said she is not sure if she’ll vote in the upcoming municipal elections. “Vote for what? To live in the shack again? She asked and said she has been waiting for a house since 1998.
However other residents said they can’t wait to cast their votes in the upcoming elections. Though they need services, voting is their democratic right that can bring about a fundamental change in their lives.