No lack of service delivery will stop us from voting say Duncan Village residents

Ziphunzana informal settlement in East London.

If it is not blocked toilets, then it’s garbage piling up next to people’s homes. But the community of Duncan Village in East London say they know the importance of voting.
It was a sunny Sunday when Elitsha visited the area. Most people were busy doing their washing, some sitting next to their shacks. There were political party representatives who were busy doing door to door campaigning.

Duncan Village, East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa

“No lack of service delivery will stop me from voting”. These were the words of Zakes Diba, a 46-year-old man living in Holomisa Informal Settlement in Duncan Village. Diba was speaking to our reporter after he took time away from his wife and kids and showed us around the informal settlement.

In front of his house, there’s a small river with foul smelling water. Even though he wished the municipality would clean the area, he said he will continue to vote until things get better.

“This is about knowing where you coming from and know who saved you from the apartheid government,” he said.

The father of two boys said he’s been living in Holomisa Informal Settlement since 1994.

“There were bushes around here. At the time there was a community leader; we used to buy him brandy in exchange for sites,” said Diba.

“At the time things were worse, we did not have water; we used bushes to relieve ourselves,” he said.

Holomisa Informal Settlement has more than 2,000 residents according to Diba with only 10 toilets to share – five toilets each for males and females. At least the women’s side is much cleaner than those toilets used by men. Only two toilets are working and the rest are blocked. There’s only one standpipe tap but residents said they are used to the conditions.

A communal toilet in Ziphunzana. Photos: Elitsha reporter.

Athenkosi Sidima (32) from Florence Informal Settlement is also singing Diba’s tune.

He lives in a one room shack.

He said he pays R150 every month for electricity he gets from the houses side.

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In his area they have two standpipe taps and six toilets which they share. He said most of the time the toilets are blocked and residents have to relieve themselves in the bushes.

“We had so many service delivery protests but things are changing very slowly,” he said. When asked if he is going to vote on the next local government election, Sidima said he does not see a reason why he should not vote.

“Yes we are not there yet but we are in a process. All we can do is to vote for the party that we hope is going to help us and that political party is ANC,” said Sidima.

We also went to Khayelitsha Informal Settlement, also in Duncan Village where we met Ntate Skhosana Mlotywa (54) who’s been living in the area for the past 26 years. He lives in a three roomed shack with his wife and three grandchildren. He told this reporter that he was once admitted to hospital for tuberculosis and he believes the conditions he lives in are the cause.

Just behind his home is dirty water coming from hostels and community members are using his back yard as a dumping site. Even though the area was not that dirty when we visited the area Ntate Mlotywa said we came just after the area was cleaned.

“If you can come next week then you will see what I’m talking about,” he said.

In the State of the Metro Address last month, Buffalo City Metro Municipal Mayor, Alfred Mtsi, said service delivery in Duncan Village is getting better. He said that even though there are challenges when it comes to housing projects in the area, they are looking forward to delivering 3 000 to 5 000 units over the next three years.

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