Above: Elderly Mita Mnyandu (in white) in excitement when MEC Pillay reported on a R62 million housing project for eQhudeni village
On Wednesday 10 May 2017 MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works, Mr Ravigasen Ranganathan Pillay visited the village of eQhudeni, an area located approximately 100km outside of Nquthu. The purpose of this visit was government’s response to the call of Operation Sukuma Sakhe (OSS), which also calls the for the involvement communities in KwaZulu-Natal to be determined in overcoming crisis such as poverty and unemployment.
eQhudeni Community Hall was full to capacity as one could see how eagerly was the community as they waited with interest, anxiety and jubilation to hear what MEC Ravi was carrying for them. It is very noticeable that the community does not have much significant as they live far from the urban areas but they are so positive and self-sufficient. The women grow their own crops and herd their own cattle while their children are at school.
In his welcoming speech, Chief Stefan Sithole thanked the provincial government for all the work they have done for the community, “Our children do not starve at school. Thanks to the feeding scheme, our children no longer walk long distances to school, thanks to the school transport provided by government”. The Chief also condemned people who boycott government events and accuse government of making false promises. Chief Sithole urged his people to cast their votes during the up and coming elections. By so doing, they can have a say in who will lead them and advance them in developing their village.
Above (ltr): MEC Ravi Pillay and Chief Stefan Sithole with two community female elders
In his address, MEC Pillay assured the community of the development plans for the area. “A R62 million housing project has been approved and the 1st Phase will see 500 houses being built for the community of eQhudeni” reported MEC Pillay. He committed to build a house for Maswazi Mncube, an old blind woman who is at 83 years of age and living alone in a dilapidated house. According to Mr Pillay, the house will be completed by the end of July 2017. He also applauded them for their positive outlook on life. “I will definitely inform the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal about what I have witnessed here at eQhudeni today, a community so active, so organised, so spirited and determined to take themselves and their families forward”, he added.
Above: Public Works official, Mr Mthoko Cele assisting elderly Maswazi Mncube who will be receiving a new house in July 2017
One would have expected the people of Nquthu to be hostile because of the status of the municipality. Nquthu municipality was dissolved earlier this year due to repeatedly failing to elect it’s council. The mind-set and attitude of the community of eQhudeni are a great example and a true inspiration of how people living in rural areas should live. They look beyond their poverty and work hard with what they have. They do not want government to “spoon feed” them instead they want government to enable them or boost them and they are willing to sustain themselves thereafter.