When the campaign trail backfires: Ramaphosa’s ‘pit stop’ angers residents

2019-04-04 22:40

President Cyril Ramaphosa left Rabie Ridge residents disappointed after making a “pit stop” in the area as part of his election campaign.

Infuriated residents referred to his brief visit as “a waste of time” and added that he should not have even bothered “passing through”, following his swift visit to the township in Midrand on Thursday afternoon.

The battle for Gauteng is expected to be one of the hardest in the upcoming general election. Having lost control of Tshwane and Johannesburg and barely holding on to Ekurhuleni, the ANC will want to make sure the province does not follow suit.

The president’s 2019 door-to-door elections campaign trail included visits to Diepsloot, Rabie Ridge and ended off in Ivory Park – a densely populated residential area in the east of Johannesburg.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Gauteng Premier David Makhura in Rabie Ridge during the ANC’s 2019 election campaign trail. Picture: Palesa Dlamini/City Press

Ramaphosa, who was accompanied by ANC members including Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and Gauteng Premier David Makhura, was on a charm offensive, but not all residents were swayed to make their mark next to his picture on the ballot paper in May.

“He was supposed to listen to the grievances of the residents. He said the people of this community must come and tell him their troubles but now, who did he talk to? Just one person. He didn’t give us the time of day,” said Juanita Jegels, a Rabie Ridge community member.

Jegels (50), has been a resident of the area for more than 30 years. She told City Press how she and other residents had come out in their numbers to address and be addressed by Ramaphosa during his visit and how the lack of engagement from the president had helped her make up her mind on who to vote for.

We came to watch him just pass through our area, I know he is campaigning but this was useless

“Right here by the corner, the first house, he should have gone to visit there. This yard has so many shacks and those people need urgent help. So him coming here meant nothing. We came to watch him just pass through our area, I know he is campaigning but this was useless,” she said.

“It’s time to give another party a chance and the Democratic Alliance (DA) is the party I am willing to give that chance to. I will be voting for them.”

As she watched Ramaphosa and ANC supporters drive off to the next stop [Ivory Park] Jegels uttered the words: “Does he even know how to get to where he is going because he has never been here before?”

President Cyril Ramaphosa visits Aron Tolman at his home in Rabie Ridge. Picture: Palesa Dlamini/City Press

The one resident Ramaphosa did visit was Aron Tolman (76), who told City Press that despite the visit from the president, he was still unsure about which party would secure his vote come May 8.

“It was a nice surprise visit. All I know is that I would like our pensions to be increased. Right now I don’t know who I will vote for. My first vote was to the ANC and the second time I voted for the DA, but at this moment I don’t know who I will vote for,” he said.

He added that he did not know if things within his community would change, but he hoped for the best.

Arriving in Ivory Park, ward 78, Ramaphosa was welcomed by a number of ANC supporters, both old and young, who had been anticipating his address.

Young and old await President Cyril Ramaphosa’s arrival in Ivory Park ward 78. Picture: Palesa Dlamini/City Press

Ramaphosa acknowledged the support the governing party received from Ivory Park residents.

“We have been to a few houses in Ivory Park and the sentiment is that we [ANC] are loved in this community,” he said.

“Although we are loved in the area we know the community is facing issues around unemployment, drugs, lack of housing and experiencing high levels of crime. This is why on May 8, it is important to vote for the ANC so all that can change.”

Ramaphosa also addressed the issue of youth unemployment following a report by Statistics South Africa that indicated that young people were still vulnerable in the labour market.

“South Africa’s unemployment rate is high for both youth and adults. However, the unemployment rate among young people aged 15 to 34 was 38.2%, implying that more than one in every three young people in the labour force did not have a job in the first quarter of 2018,” the report read.

Ramaphosa echoed this sentiment: “Young people go to university, get qualifications but don’t get jobs afterwards, and this is one of the main issues we as the ANC will fix,” he said

This is the party I grew up knowing at home. This year, as a first-time voter, that is who I will be voting for

Eighteen-year-old Koketso Mabyana, who listened to Ramaphosa’s address in Ivory Park, will be voting for the first time this year. He said that supporting the ANC was something that came naturally for him.

“Everyone in my family supports the ANC. The president spoke about youth unemployment today and that is an issue that affects me because I am going to university soon so the fact that he said they will address the issue of youth unemployment was a good thing for me,” he told City Press.

“This is the party I grew up knowing at home. This year, as a first-time voter, that is who I will be voting for.”

A lack of housing led to protests in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township this week and acts of xenophobic attacks broke out in areas of Kwazulu-Natal and Limpopo.

ReadXenophobia: ‘South Africans deserve better from government’, say residents

But Ramaphosa said that the governing party had done well in providing citizens of the country with this necessity.

“Since the ANC took over in 1994 we have built more than 4.3 million houses for our people and no other country on the continent has done that for its people. We give the houses to our people for free and we are still going to build a million more,” he said.

Following the Alexandra shutdown on Wednesday amid calls for better housing for South African citizens, Ramaphosa called for Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba to address the community.

Read‘He must take responsibility’ – Herman Mashaba a no-show as Alex burns

In response Mashaba took to Twitter and said: “I noted the call of President Cyril Ramaphosa for me to address the community of Alexandra. Name the time and place Mr President, I will be there. I wonder if you will be? I will account for two years of government and you can account for over two decades of failure in Alex.”

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August 18 2019