We should not be mistreated by a government that hurts us.

by MMC
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In the noise of South African politics, the stakes are high. While allegations of corruption against politicians abound and wars between political parties rage, half of South Africans live in poverty.

Many struggle to afford meals and more than a quarter of children under five suffer from stunted growth due to malnutrition. We must turn our gaze to those who suffer, whose pain continues outside the media spotlight. With less than 50 days until the vote, these are the stories that matter most.

I spent a lot of time this year reporting on the realities faced by South Africans. Over the past few weeks, I have visited KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo, where the challenges are devastating. As a people, we deserve better than failed governance and must restore our collective dignity in the next election.

Budget cuts at KZN NPOs

I visited a homeless shelter in eThekwini, which houses over 300 people. The municipality owns the facility, but due to underfunding, non-profit organizations (NPOs) have assumed responsibility. As we continue to see, when government fails, helping hands appear, but there is little NPOs can do because they also face budget cuts.

As a result of the national government’s self-inflicted fiscal crisis, the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government’s budget was cut by more than R12 billion in the medium term and this was felt hardest by those who had the most Need help.

Consider that the Pietermaritzburg Child and Family Protection Society, with more than 100 years of service and 10,000 beneficiaries each year, is facing a budget cut of more than R600,000 this year.

As its director quoted it, this “will set the organization back 10 years, having only received three raises in the last decade.” The grant to upgrade informal settlements and house vulnerable people in the province has also been reduced by R229 million. These painful budget cuts took place while millionaire public sector employees benefited from comfortable increases, which shows the priorities of our government.

The DA’s offering focuses on protecting our vulnerable people and lifting them out of poverty. Our rescue plan provides a comprehensive social safety net that will lift 15 million South Africans out of extreme poverty and into lives of opportunity.

We will increase child support based on the poverty line from R520 to R760 to protect the most vulnerable from hunger. We will protect vulnerable people from record food inflation with an expanded VAT-free food basket, food centers and gardens. No one in South Africa should starve and our government has a duty to prevent this.

Mpumalanga: a province of beautiful bodies of water, but the taps are dry.

I commemorated Human Rights Day in Mpumalanga, where I was greeted by heavy rain. Yet the taps were dry in the communities I visited. Some have not had a constant supply of water for years.

Mbombela residents either have to buy water or fetch it themselves. It is well known that South Africa is short of water, but it is unacceptable to see rivers full while taps are dry and people are relegated to sharing drinking water with animals.

The water crisis in Mbombela required the intervention of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) which in February this year ruled that the municipality had violated section 27 of the Constitution , the right to water.

Mbombela was ordered to fulfill his constitutional obligations within 90 days of the SAHRC’s findings, but as the rain fell on Human Rights Day, I saw little change of heart. As we commemorate three decades of our democracy, it is painful to see that so many people do not enjoy the human rights guaranteed by our Constitution.

In contrast, the City of Cape Town recently unveiled its 2024/25 budget, which includes an investment of R12.1 billion in infrastructure, representing an investment of R40 billion in the medium term. This pro-poor investment offers a shared glimpse of what is possible with the right decision-makers in power. We can achieve stability within our councils through good coalition laws that allow municipalities to focus on serving residents. We can leave behind erosion and backlash to provide excellent services.

Generations of Limpopo residents are left without quality services

In Limpopo, the sinking feeling continued. I have met the most humble people, but many have not reaped the fruits of democracy. Similar to Mpumalanga, Limpopo in broader terms has an unemployment rate above 45%. This disproportionately affects young people, those who are supposedly born free.

Seeing statistics on paper about millions of people out of work is heartbreaking enough, it’s even more upsetting to see their faces. In public meetings with residents, I heard one story after another of deprivation, but residents still had hope for change.

We are extremely resilient as South Africans, but we should not be exploited by a government that does us harm. As I sat with residents of Tzaneen and Phalaborwa, who, among other concerns, were crying over lack of water, I became angry because funding for a water project that was supposed to be delivered to them years ago was siphoned off during the government’s tenure. former Minister of Water and Sanitation.

Billions of rand and a special investigation unit later report that residents are still without water. We deserve ethical and responsible leadership, where public service is a noble duty and not a means to personal gain.

As a society, we continue to deserve better and it is our responsibility to demand it too. As the Sixth Parliament draws to a close and the political news cycle heats up in preparation for our upcoming elections, I have more on my mind than the politics of the moment.

Despite all that is happening, the realities experienced by South Africans remain. There is a great need around us and these elections are for those who need help the most.

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