While President Jacob Zuma is in town for yesterday’s annual State of the Nation Address (SONA), my colleagues and I decided to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and head to Vrygrond, a township near Muizenberg beach, on the False Bay coast, about 20km away from Cape Town central.
Vrygrond (‘free ground’ in Afrikaans) is the oldest informal dwelling in the area and because of its strategic position close to the ocean, it was originally created by fishermen who built simple houses, known as shacks.
We arrived at the creche (sponsored by Project Abroad) and met with the manager Nicolette Lilieveld. A mother of five children, Nicolette has been living in Vrygrond for 22 years and started the crèche in 2014.
While she prepared the rice for lunch, we started chatting. ‘Children can’t learn on an empty stomach,’ she tells me with a smile. In the tiny kitchen, Nicolette was happy to share her thoughts with me about the political situation at the moment.
Z: What do you think about Jacob Zuma?
N: I’m not interested in Zuma, he’s our president but he says one thing and then he does another thing. He’s just lying to everybody to gain what he wants. Most of the people don’t see the big picture of him, they just listen to him when he’s talking. He’s talking right but he’s doing nonsense [sic]. He’s not helping any of us.
You can see the way we live here. We don’t have anything. We need to be supported. Roads are not even secure, there are dangers for our children and the gangsters are robbing people, sometimes in broad daylight.
Z: Do you still have hope for someone better will replace him?
N: I actually don’t have hope in politics but for me, the DA is better than ANC. They are trying to do what they say. They are helping us; they have offices here where we can speak to councillors about our problems. So my answer is: I don’t see the ANC anywhere.
ANC was the party of Nelson Mandela but now he’s [Zuma] destroying his legacy, I mean, he’s destroying what Nelson Mandela built. Mandela did a lot of things for our country – ending apartheid, trying to educate children, making all people equal no matter if you are black, white or any colour or you’re rich or poor. Jacob Zuma is supposed to know the way we are living, but now he’s just using and abusing everything.
Z: Why do you think the ANC chose Jacob Zuma as a leader?
N: He can speak very well, he can convince a lot of people, but who knows what is in the back of his mind.
He is supposed to be focused on the people of his country, but if you see the way we live here and you see the people who live in Sea Point, Green point, it’s like two different worlds.
But I’m not jealous of others, I am happy where I am, living in my community. Yes, I would like it to be more secure but I belong here.
I like going out to visit the nicer places – the beaches and streets are clean; everything is like perfect. But if you come to where we grow up and where we are, don’t only look at our houses and what we have, look at the smiles on our faces, too.
Zoé is an aspiring journalist who is addicted to travel, politics, movies, gangster stories, fiestas, extreme sports and music.
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