Open toilets: 'ANC lied to us'
The ANC breaks its promise to end the stench of its latest 'open-toilets' scandal.
By Amukelani Chauke and Bongiwe Sithole
The ANC has broken its promise to end the stench of its latest "open-toilets" scandal.
Residents of Rammulotsi, a township in Viljoenskroon, say the Moqhaka municipality and the Free State government have not - despite "promise after promise" since early last year - enclosed all the open toilets in the area.
The ANC sent its big guns to the area in May last year.
The visit was, however, regarded by many as a publicity exercise and damage control days before the municipal elections.
At the time, there were about 1600 open toilets in the area.
ANC national executive committee members Fikile Mbalula and Tony Yengeni, Free State Premier Ace Magashule and sacked ANC Youth League president Julius Malema visited Rammulotsi.
The leaders told residents that the situation was "unacceptable" and people should not be treated like sub-humans.
The then mayor of Moqhaka , Mantebu Mokgosi, said the toilets could not be enclosed because the council was given money only for the toilets and not for enclosing them.
Magashule said the province would provide the money.
Municipal spokesman Mandisa Tete has refused to comment on the latest stink.
She said she would not answer questions during a weekend .
Local ward councillor Simon Mokoena referred queries to the mayor.
When The Times visited the area on Friday, the team saw a number of open toilets, with some residents saying that they had given up hope that the municipality would ever finish enclosing them.
Sello Dlamini, 17, and his grandfather, Abraham Koloti, 86, said their home was omitted when a municipal sub-contractor built toilet structures last year.
Dlamini said they did not understand why their house was "skipped" when sub-contractors went from house to house building toilet structures.
"The councillor promised that they would fix it, but till today nothing has been done."
He said he used the neighbour's toilet and Koloti used the open toilet or, at times, a bucket.
Another resident Maritubi Ramothopi, 58, said not only did he feel violated, he was also disappointed after having voted for the ANC.
"My house has been skipped twice when the toilet structures were built.
"The builders told me that the councillor instructed them to do so. This is hurtful because we vote for nothing," he said.
Koos Matankana, 62, who covered his toilet with a zinc structure, said he, along with some of his neighbours, had given up on the municipality.
"The councillor held a meeting and spoke about money issues as a reason for not enclosing toilets."
He said most of his neighbours had built their own enclosures.
Community leader Bramage Sekete, who led a march to the municipal offices in May, said that though he was not sure how many open toilets were still in the area, many remained unenclosed.
"We feel that the government has violated our right [to dignity] because it has been years ... we thought this is our government, but it is clear that this government belongs to a few individuals.
"We feel we are being disrespected and that we are being used for election campaigns through promises being made before every election," he said.
Sekete said that after Mbalula's visit last year a team of five officials from the Moqhaka municipality, five people from the community and three officials of the province was set up.
He said officials from the province and the municipality missed a scheduled team meeting on Friday. He claimed that the officials have been recently spreading lies by telling a regional SABC radio station that residents were "happy".
Mosa Makoele, a DA councillor in the municipality, said in May that the municipality had decided that it would build toilet structures with alternative materials, including asbestos, instead of bricks.
"The municipality said it was waiting for a budget. A budget was approved on May 31 but so far nothing has happened. They have not started building the structures," he said.
Makoele said that, since the toilet scandal had emerged, the DA had made two complaints to the Human Rights Commission, in May and last year.