Eldos takes Makhura to task
The largely coloured community of Eldorado Park this week took Gauteng Premier David Makhura to task in a no-holds-barred community meeting, telling him they had grown disillusioned after 30 years of neglect.
Their overwhelming feeling of not belonging has been vocalised for many years and this week, at the meeting, the heat was on Makhura as he spoke of a trust deficit due to governance failures.
In Eldos, as the place in Johannesburg South is popularly known, residents voted overwhelmingly for the DA both in the 2011 local elections and in last year’s general elections. The DA won 65% of the vote in the general election, while the ANC secured only 27% and the Economic Freedom Fighters a mere 4%.
Set up by the apartheid regime as an exclusively coloured township, Eldos has a lot of poverty and unemployment, as well as substance abuse problems, especially among the youth.
Makhura said:“The impression that we are not taking the coloured community seriously must come to an end. We must show in practice and in action.”
He and members of his executive, together with acting City of Johannesburg Mayor Matshidiso Mfikoe, spent two days in Soweto to assess service-delivery progress and speak to communities as part of the Ntirhisano Service Delivery War Room programme.
Complaints ranged from a lack of housing and social amenities, such as clinics, to dilapidated infrastructure, overcrowded back rooms, lolly lounges, drug abuse and police collaborating with druglords.
Makhura conceded that, indeed, Eldorado had not benefited from housing development for many years.
“I understand why the community says we must do more to win back the confidence. I know a lot of work we still need to do, even where there is progress, it’s clouded by history. But I promise, you will see us a lot, not just during elections,” he said.
“You feel you are not South African enough, not white enough and not black enough, and you are the last one in the queue,” he said as the packed hall echoed with a loud “yes”.
At one point the meeting became tense as he had to contend with threats of war against government that would be “much worse than the 1976 uprising”.
As one angry resident put it: “You wouldn’t want to mess with the coloured community.”
Then a threatening memorandum was handed to Makhura and his MECs by a group claiming to represent residents.
In the memo, he was given seven days to respond to concerns “or this place is going to burn”, and the residents said they would boycott the August 3 local elections.
“I’m not going to be intimidated. We can take criticism, but we can’t take violence,” he said as he described some contents of the memo as “ridiculous”.
Gauteng government promised the community that it would be given title deeds for a block of flats. The province has also identified a piece of land where schools are set to be built and 6 500 houses erected.