CHIEFLY CORRUPTION | In the Grip of Poverty in the Rural Areas

by Thamsanqa Dumezweni, Eastern Cape

The Eastern Cape, particularly the rural parts thereof, is the epitome of the ANC’s betrayal of the rural people who are unable to breathe as they are daily chocked by poverty, unemployment, lack of clean water, access roads, healthcare facilities, decent sanitation, proper housing, proper school education and functioning transport. All this misery is an unfortunate consequence of the ANC’s capitalist policies. And above all, the subjection of the rural people to the so-called customary rule of the chiefs and ‘kings’ whose main function is to police the rural people. In doing this, these feudal relics are rewarded with monthly payments of millions of rands.

One of these chiefs, in the district of Inqguza Hill Municipality, objected, at one time, to the reticulation of electricity in the area said to be under his administration. He did so arguing (stupidly) that electricity would blind the cattle and frighten the ancestors. This is how backward these people are!      

The chief mentioned above, whose name is Mwelo Nonkonyana, does not only get payment, of taxpayers’ money, from government for being the custodian African culture, as the government maintains. He also pays himself by corrupt means as he demands payment from people on account of demarcating and allocating building sites for whoever wants such a site. The price, paid by local people, is R170 per person and plus food and liquor, to be consumed by the chief and his headmen, for being allocated a site. A person from another chief’s area is charged R1,000 on top of food and liquor provided.

The allocation of site to whoever wants to build a shelter is undertaken on the basis of consultation with the people living in the same neighbourhood. In most cases, the chief and his headman do not consult with people when allocating land for sites. As a reaction to the corrupt practices of the chief, the community members established a committee to say no to decisions, affecting the community, to be taken by the chief or headman without the community involvement.

A local member of the now MWP was elected to chair the committee, which he still does. This, in July 2019, led to the chief suing, at Mthatha High Court, six leading members of the committee. In the wake of this, the community members rallied contributing money (R6000) to open a file with a defence lawyer, who indicated that the advocate fees, at the High Court, would amount to more than R17000. In response to this, the committee decided to approach the legal aid as it was felt that the community would not be in a position to provide such an amount of money. The case, up to date, has not been scheduled for trial.

The committee has sustained itself by taking up the struggle for water, clinics, access roads, village streets, pre-schools. To this effect, the committee has met with the mayor demanding the service delivery of the above. In the despicable style of the ANC, the mayor made promises which have not been fulfilled since January 2020.

A Coterie of local ANC ‘leaders’

This grouping of current ward committee members and councillors plus aspirant ward committee members and councillors (for 2021 elections) feel uncomfortable with the community committee but unable to dislodge it. This is because the committee has, in its endeavours, impressed the community with the ideas of unity among community members, the ability of the committee to talk to municipality officials the outcome of which, among other things, has been the delivery of water tanks and the promise (if real) that water reticulation is going to take place in this August. But this is a pipe dream for Inqguza Hill Municipality is one of the bankrupt municipalities in the East Cape.

Trade union work

The committee has not, up to now, been involved in trade union work. This has been the task of the chairperson organasing workers in retail shops at Flagstaff. This work has been done under the auspices of Giwusa, who abandoned the organiser at the end of 2019. And this has led to workers not being serviced, that culminated in workers deserting GIWUSA. Recently, security guards in one company approached the organiser seeking to be recruited. These workers were signed up with NUPSAW, and the employer chose to dismiss eight of them for joining the union. Now the case has been filed with CCMA.

Unity of working and poor people

The historic task imposed on Marxist Workers Party is to fight, in these rural areas, for unity between towns and villages. The horizon to this end is getting clearer and clearer given the emerging class consciousness of the rural people who are boldly, in conversations, declaring that the ANC is a den of thieves. Even the stultifying grip of the so-called traditional leadership is weakening. One manifestation of this is the protest in Mount Frere against the arrogant imposter Thandisizwe Diko who is caught up with his wife, Khusela Diko, in the corruption scandal of R125 million.