Elections 2014: Walmer – united by name, divided by politics

“It’s like two different faces on the same person,” said Walmer Township resident Nozibele Mcunukelwa. “Walmer suburb and Walmer Township are so close, but the one is rich and the other one is poor.” 

Mcunukelwa was talking about two residential areas in Port Elizabeth with vastly different life experiences and election hopes. Walmer suburb is leafy green with boutique shops and neat streets. On Wednesday, long queues of voters stretched down the road next to lush lawns leading up to the Walmer Town Hall. On the wall at the Super Spar across the road is printed: “Under CCTV surveillance 24hrs”. 

Most of the people the Mail & Guardian spoke to outside the town hall said they had voted for the Democratic Alliance (DA). Sisters Keri (23) and Hayley (22) Plumstead were among them. 

“I like the way Cape Town is run … I hope Port Elizabeth can be the same,” Keri said. “I heard the ANC and the DA are fighting to take over the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropole. I hope the DA gets it.” 

The next municipal elections will be held in 2016. The ANC won 51% of the votes and the DA 40% in the 2011 municipal elections.

Different story
At Walmer Primary school in the township a mere five-minute drive away, residents trickled into one of the classrooms to vote. Dogs and goats trawled the roads for food as residents dodged filthy water and sewage from broken drains. Ward councillors in the Walmer areas are ANC and DA members.

Mongezi Jomda (30), a Walmer township resident, said he voted for the ANC because he “saw positive change over the years and now I’m hoping for more change”. 

He had cuts on the bridge of his nose and forehead from an attack by local muggers, who hit him with a bottle a few days ago and stole his wallet and cellphone. 

Talking about the attack, Jomda said the ANC “does things bit by bit, hopefully they will get on to [crime] soon”. 

Mcunukelwa, who works for the South African Red Cross Society, said she lives just behind the school. “People here vote ANC mostly … that side, in the suburb, it’s DA,” she said. “In the township we have a problem with methane gas in the one area so they can’t build houses there … a lot of the toilets are still on a bucket system, there’s no water or electricity, and the people have to get water from the tap on the corner.” 


Mcunukelwa said incidents of crime were high at night and on the weekends “because the people here drink and there are always a lot of rapes”. The drinking also meant that “people defaulted on taking their medication for TB and HIV”. 

In the suburb, “the white people are privileged … they always have been”. When a drain broke in the township it was fixed in three to five days, “but if a drain breaks in the suburb, it’s fixed the same day”. 

It didn’t matter that South Africa was celebrating 20 years of democracy: “White people are still treated differently,” Mcunukelwa said.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

Two dead in new ANC KwaZulu-Natal killings

A Mtubatuba councillor and a Hammarsdale ANC Youth League leader were shot yesterday near their homes

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it
Advertising

Press Releases

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations