Better houses, toilets, helping grandparents with school fees and voting for the African National Congress were the topics Thaba Nchu residents discussed with President Thabo Mbeki on Thursday.
The president was visiting the former Bophuthatswana town, now part of the Mangaung local municipality, about 80km east of Bloemfontein as part of the ANC’s door-to-door campaign for the local government elections on March 1.
Philipena Motlhalanyane (75) lives in an old, two-room mud house in Moraka township in Thaba Nchu and looks after six children, of whom three are at school.
”We need a [proper] house,” she told Mbeki.
Motlhalanyane also looks after her husband, William (85), on the R780 pension she receives.
”Vote, yes, I voted for the president the last time and I will vote for him again,” she said, when asked by an ANC canvasser.
Shirley Maele (67), also of Moroka, told Mbeki she needs help looking after her grandchildren, because her daughter is looking for work.
Free State Premier Beatrice Marshoff later took her details to be referred to the relevant government officials.
”The pension [date] must come down to 50 years,” Figamora Rapulane (59) said, sitting with Maele while talking to Mbeki.
She said women are working harder than men these days ”looking after everything” and need to rest earlier. She will start receiving her pension in September.
Another resident, Jeanette Shai (47), told the president there is a need for a Sesotho-language school in Thaba Nchu.
Two other residents, Samuel Mogotloana (24) and Thabo Moroe (24), said the biggest need in Thaba Nchu is employment opportunities. ”Jobs, we are very poor,” Mogotloana said.
Also waiting to see Mbeki was Emile Mabaso (58), who said her Reconstruction and Development Programme house leaks in the rain. ”The water falls inside, they must fix it.”
Mabaso, from Ratau township, also thinks her life would be better if she could get running water at home as well as a proper toilet.
”The insects in the toilet at home are a pest,” she said. — Sapa