Ace says home delivery is about people’s welfare, not votes
Premier Ace Magashule has handed over seven houses to seven families from Botshabelo, part of the 67 homes that the provincial government is building for poor families from the town, located 55km east of Bloemfontein, at a cost of more than R7 million.
Magashule, who promised that the rest of the homes that are at various stages of construction will be completed over the next five months, handed over the properties to the new owners last Friday as part of activities to celebrate Mandela Day that was commemorated worldwide on the same day.
“These houses will be completed before the end of the year,” said Magashule. “I have absolute confidence in the work underway here; I am more than content with what I have seen,” said the premier, who was accompanied by provincial health MEC Benny Malakoane, senior government officials, as well as ruling ANC party provincial secretary William Bulwane.
The homes in Botshabelo West are being built with money donated by a group of 67 business people from the Free State, a gesture that fits in well with the message of Mandela Day which encourages every citizen of the world to do their bit to help make it a better place to live.
Recipients of the breaking new ground (BNG) model houses previously lived in shacks because they could not afford to build proper homes for themselves.
The BNG houses, which cost R110 000 each to build, are an improved and bigger version of the so-called RDP houses, a cheaper and smaller type built for the poor by the government under its reconstruction and development programme and from whose acronym it takes its name.
One of the people handed keys to their new home last Friday, 75-year old Seipati Maholoholo described the occasion as a dream come true, adding that even she could see the construction work taking place everyday she still could never imagine herself one day vacating her shack to move into a new house built for her with help from the government and the well-wisher businesspeople.
“I am very grateful for this; I still cannot believe that I now own a house of my own,” said Maholoholo whose has been living in the area for the past five years.
Magashule and his delegation also took the opportunity to visit several schools in Botshabelo where they distributed 27 000 menstrual pads to schoolgirls, some who were reportedly using newspapers when on their periods.
Others were reportedly opting to stay away from school during their menstrual period because they did not have pads to ensure they would not embarrass themselves at school.
“We identified a few schools because we learnt that when girls had their monthly cycles, they stay away from school. This is not good because education is important and children should not be missing a week of school every month,” said Magashule.
The premier also undertook to ensure that the municipality attended to sewerage blockages at some schools where children were reportedly at risk of contracting diseases because of the daily exposure to raw sewage spilling from the blocked pipes and toilets.
He said: “We were disturbed to learn that our children are being exposed to such an environment. We have instructed the municipality to solve this problem by the end of the week because learners cannot be exposed to an unhealthy learning environment.”
Meanwhile Magashule refuted charges from opposition parties that the campaign to deliver food, houses, fix sewerage blockage problems at schools and even hand out menstrual pads to schoolgirls was all a campaign gimmick meant to curry favour with voters ahead of municipal elections next year.
“I don’t know what campaigning people are referring to because the ANC government has for the past 20 years been building houses for the poor and it will continue doing so because this is a government program … to transform the lives of our people for the better,” said Magashule.
South Africans choose new local governments in 2016 at a date yet to be named.
The ANC that controls all the 24 municipalities in the Free State is seen retaining its dominance in local government in a province seen as one of the former liberation movement’s strongest powerbases.