A routine handover of a temporary shelter by two national ministers to 93year-old Evelyn Mavalati turned into a sudden drama yesterday.
There were howls of outrage from ANC volunteers and residents, which were directed at a local councillor accused of trying to steal the limelight without having done any of the hard work.
Yesterday, Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane and Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu were in Duncan Village mobilising residents to attend the ANC’s 106th birthday celebrations tomorrow at Buffalo City Stadium.
Mavalati said she had been living in a shack for as long as she could remember.
The crowd that had come to celebrate the new home turned on Buffalo City Metro councillor Nozandile Mhlola, calling her incompetent and an opportunist.
Yonela Mashiya, a resident and an ANC volunteer, said the volunteers were the ones who had worked to organise the help for the elderly, and that Mhlola, although well aware of their plight, had never showed any concern.
“Now that there are ministers and newspapers here, Mhlola wants to be seen at the forefront,” Mashiya said.
“This shelter is not her doing, I am sure she does not even know how it came about.
“We are tired of local councillors who ignore the residents, but when it’s time to take the glory, you see them at the front.”
Mhlola refused to comment. Mavalati was over the moon after she was ushered into her new home, which was built in just a day.
“I am so happy, I am so grateful. I have no words to describe the feeling that I am feeling,” she said.
“I thought I would die in a shack but I guess God had a different plan for me. I will die in a decent shelter.”
Sisulu said the shelter was part of the new plan that her department was rolling out to eradicate shacks.
“We are hoping to build these kinds of houses as beneficiaries wait for their houses, but we are still struggling to convince people to move into these temporary shelters,” she said.
“We still need to communicate to the public that these are durable houses and that they are, in the meantime, a better alternative to a shack that may be leaking.”
Sisulu handed over the keys of the shelter and went to address the crowd waiting outside the house.
Mokonyane, who initially identified Mavalati as being in need of decent shelter, said she was happy that she could deliver a proper shelter.
She assured residents in a similar plight that their turn was near. —