‘Mr President, you’ve cured me of my stroke’

It is not every day that the president visits your house, but for Sandra and Beauty Maluleka the moment was so big they believe he ”cured” Beauty’s sickness.

President Thabo Mbeki was electioneering in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria, where he went from house to house, introducing voters to the African National Congress candidates in their wards and asking them to vote on March 1.

In Block S, the Malulekas were overwhelmed, screaming Mbeki’s name and jumping up and down when he entered their small home.

They did not know what to say, but a smiling Mbeki introduced himself and got them talking.

”I think you’ve cured me of my stroke,” Beauty Maluleka told the president.

At yet another house, Mbeki was received by Caiphus Masilela, who did a song and dance with the president.

Houses, jobs and municipal services were the issues most Soshanguve residents wanted the president to look at. Promising to do just that, he handed them pamphlets with the ANC’s plan for local government.

Mbeki was casually dressed in an ANC T-shirt and cap, and had an easy manner, stopping several times next to the road where he got out of his car to shake people’s hands — to the dismay of his security personnel.

Although he seemed to be enjoying the interaction with the people, some ANC volunteers had a harder time convincing people to vote.

Carrying placards reading ”To hell with voting”, a small but vocal group protested the ANC’s choices of candidates in some wards.

”This council office is rubbish,” 64-year-old Ester Shabangu told the president during his stop at her house.

In Block X, people asked why they should vote for an ANC candidate they had not chosen themselves, and residents from Block W were angry that councillors ”did nothing” when their electricity and water was cut off.

Complaints aside, many residents vowed to vote for the ANC again come the March 1 local government elections. — Sapa

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