Ladysmith communities outline expectations ahead of Presidential Imbizo

Friday, June 30, 2023

Local residents from communities in and around Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal say they are eagerly waiting to engage with the three spheres of government to find out about development plans government has for their area.

Basic services such as water and electricity, dilapidated roads, poverty and unemployment, the R350 social relief of distress (SRD) grant and limited healthcare facilities are some of the challenges the community of Ladysmith expect the three spheres of government to address today.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is today leading the 7th Presidential District Development Model (DDM) Imbizo at the Oqungwini Sport Field in Alfred Duma Local Municipality, under Uthukela District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal.

In the spirit and theme of ‘leaving no one behind’ in the development of communities, the rebuilding of the economy and service delivery, the President and leaders from all spheres of government will interact with members of communities.

SAnews spoke to some of the locals shortly before the commencement of the official programme of the much-anticipated Presidential Imbizo.   

Nduduzo Sithole, from Emjindini, said he couldn’t wait to tell the President about the challenges they face, including the shortage of water and the high rate of unemployment among the youth, and the availability of funding for higher education.

“My hope is to hear the President address the high unemployment rate faced by the youth in our communities. I expect him to outline plans from government on how they are going to deal with this challenge. We want them to build areas where the youth can get skills, which will eventually help them in securing employment.

“Another challenge is water, which is very scarce in our area. We do not have water at all. We want the President to tell us how they are going to fix the water woes for us,” Sithole told SANews. 

Thuladi Khumalo, 26, from Ward 1 in Ladysmith said she would like to see hospitals around her area servicing patients for free, as they do not have any source of income.

“I am going to ask the President and his delegation to please scrap the R45 fee we pay for opening a file at the hospital because as it is, we are not working so we cannot afford to pay such a fee,” she said.

Bongeka Maphisa from eKhazeni section told SANews that she is going to plead with the President and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to extend the foster child grant beyond 18 years of age.

 Maphisa said she takes care of three orphans and often finds it difficult to take them through to university or college due to the grant being cut-off after the orphan matriculates.

“I am pleading with government to keep the grant for orphans up until they finish school. We are unable to pay for their rent because NSFAS [National Student Financial Aid Scheme] also takes about three months before they release the allowances, so if the grant is still coming in, it would go a long way,” she said.

Thulani Khanyile, from eHlonyane village, pleaded with government to come up with several solutions for dilapidated roads and the construction of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) houses.

“We would like government to fix our roads… We drive on gravel. If they can just put in a tar road for us, we would be grateful. We also plead with government to build more RDPs and toilets for us,” he said.

Putting the DDM to work

 Cabinet adopted the DDM in August 2019. It is a comprehensive planning model for cooperative governance, which seeks to be an integrated, district-based service delivery approach aimed at fast-tracking service delivery.

It also seeks to ensure that municipalities are adequately supported and resourced to carry out their mandate.

The model was approved by government structures, including Cabinet, to integrate service delivery in a more practical, achievable, implementable and measurable manner, and clearly aligned to the key priorities of the government.

The Presidential Imbizo provides a platform for the President to engage with communities on their experiences of daily life and service delivery by government.

To date, President Cyril Ramaphosa has visited six provinces, namely the North West, Free State, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Northern Cape, and Western Cape, where he interacted with residents.

This follows the commitment he made to engage with communities throughout the country in his 2022 State of the Nation Address. –