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Pastor Skosana Invites Zuma and Zille to Hell

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA AND PREMIER HELEN ZILLE ABOUT THE STATE OF SOUTH AFRICAN TOWNSHIPS AND WHAT SHOULD BE DONE

Dear President Zuma and Premier Zille

I am a 44 year old man who has lived for 25 years in the townships of South Africa, in the outskirts of Port Elizabeth to be precise. My experience of township dwelling includes New Brighton, Red Location, Site and Service etc. For the last 16 years though, I have been living in the suburbs of Cape Town, from the most lily white and leafiest suburb you can find, with the strongest body corporate, boom gates and all the rest of it, to the lowliest suburb with neighbours worrying about the value of their properties, next door to a rat infested, rotten, township. I am a pastor by profession and calling, serving Way of Life church in Khayelitsha for the last 14 years.

On the 23rd of April 2011, when the Christian community commemorates the death and resurrection of Christ, I will lead a 13.5km march from Gugulethu to Khayelitsha, under a strongly worded banner, “Welcome To Hell – S.A. Townships. Having seen the best and the worst of both worlds, suburbs and townships, that is, I am now fully persuaded, that the historic, evil intent and design that still permeates South African townships, is the blue print that under-girds and compounds the many challenges facing this country, from the over crowded classrooms, to unemployment, HIV and AIDS and crime, all these and more are exacerbated by the model for human settlement currently in place. Structurally it is no different to the notorious separate development of yesteryear.

Considering the immense political influence you both have as leaders of the two most dominant political parties in the country currently, I realize that if you will and have any empathy in you, you can change the materiel condition of three hundred families at QQ section, informal settlement in Khayelitsha who do not have toilets as we speak. On my last visit there, I made the mistake of blinking and dunked my foot in a pile of human faeces that decorates most part of the area because of the lack of toilets. I write to you because I am convinced that with enough political will, you can change the fate of men and women who are pressed like sardines in moving trains on their way to far-flung CBD’s, looking for work.

Why not write to the Minister for Human Settlement Mr Tokyo Sexwale, or the MEC for housing Mr. Bonginkosi Madikizela, in the case of Cape Town, you may ask. Well Mr President and Madam Zille, besides the fact that these gentlemen do not inspire enough confidence in me, I have already stated the obvious, that the two of you sit at the helm of the two most powerful political parties in the country right now, the ruling party and the strongest opposition party respectively.

Perhaps the not so obvious answer to the question has to do with the fact that the poor are at the mercy of a complex and sophisticated system of governance, the separation and balance of powers, the three spheres of government, and more bureaucratic jargon that does not mean anything to them. All this looks impressive on paper Mr President and Madam Zille, everybody looks busy, yet nothing meaningful gets accomplished. Goal posts get shifted every five years, national, provincial and local government get to blame each other for non delivery of services to our people, even when the court of law has judged in favor of a community, delay tactics come into play because South African administrative law is not fully developed and in instances where it is developed, it is not enforceable. So government is not held accountable ultimately.

South Africa needs an emergency task team whose sole purpose, in the short, medium and long term, is the eradication of informal settlements and an overhaul or reconfiguration of the current face of South African townships, backyard dwelling included. For such a task team to work amicably, it will have to enjoy the support of the executive, must be legislated and empowered by the courts. It is both degrading and demeaning to the dignity of South Africans, including my mother, who live in these glorified concentration camps.

On the 18th of May 2011, the majority of South Africans, including those trapped in abject poverty, will brave whatever weather of the day, proudly put on blue and yellow T. shirts with the logo of the DA and ANC respectively, with your faces Mr President and Madam Zille against their empty stomachs. They will come out in big numbers to put their trust in your organizations yet again. The least and yet profound thing you could do whilst you have a chance and political influence, though symbolical and ceremonial it may seem, is rising above party politics and pledge yourselves and your organizations by signing a commitment to eradicate the ugly face of South Africa, the informal settlements. To call upon your respective ministers for human settlement, to champion, together with credible community leaders, a process of rethinking and imagining a new model for housing people in South Africa, where a house is more than a shelter but one of the many facets of an enabling and empowering environment for people to self actualize.

The choice is yours Mr President and Premier Zille, to continue to play party politics of survival and name calling and hope that the poor will remain forever gullible and patient, to continue and hope that the prophets of doom who continue to prophesy about a pending “tsunami” will be proven false. Or you can open your eyes and see QQ section in Khayelitsha and many such places across the breath and length of this country as a clarion call to act with urgency.

I dare you Mr. President and Madam Zille, to take time off your busy schedules and from your election trails, and meet us at the end of our “Welcome To Hell-S.A Townships” march, and receive our petition for a squatter camp free South Africa

Regards

Pastor Xola Skosana

** The office of Helen Zille has confirmed that it would like to meet Pastor Skosana this Sunday 17 April.

 

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