In two years’ time there won’t be anyone living in a shack within the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, executive mayor Thabo Manyoni has promised.
He made this undertaking on his visit to the sprawling Chris Hani informal settlement on the outskirts of Bloemfontein as part of the local authority’s Mandela Day activities.
The municipality is already formalising the Khayelitsha slum, also in the Free State provincial capital, where shacks are being replaced with neat brick-and-mortar houses.
“We want each parent to be able to leave their children an inheritance of a house on departing from this earth,” Manyoni said, in an address to scores of residents he met on his tour of the Chris Hani settlement last Friday.
“It will be all good knowing that our children stay in houses they can call their home when we are no longer around to fend for them,” he added.
The mayor was accompanied on the tour by officials from the budget airline Mango which has several domestic flights to and from Bloemfontein.
Social soccer and netball matches pitting teams assembled by Mango played against Chris Hani residents to mark the occasion.
There were also jumping castles for the amusement of children, while 300 small garden buckets and spades were handed over to children as gifts by the airline.
Mango’s Lebo Monamotsane said the airline was very excited to partner the municipality in celebrating Mandela Day – marked every July 18, on the late anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela’s birthday, as a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world.
She advised the young ones to emulate democratic South Africa’s first president by taking their studies seriously and striving to do good at all times.
“Be the change that you want to see in the world . . . if you want a world in which people support each other, be the first to support others,” Monamotsane said.
The ward councillor for the Chris Hani area, Masabata Matsemelela, said she was humbled that Manyoni had chosen to visit her area as part of his Mandela Day activities.
“His presence here, in the true spirit of Mandela, gives us hope that the challenges that we face will certainly be attended to,” she said.
“Our kids here still do not have a school and have to travel long distances to nearby ones, and our roads are also not up to scratch. However, we are hopeful that this will be an old story soon.”
Earlier on Mandela Day, Manyoni had visited the statue of Madiba on top of Naval Hill in Bloemfontein where he laid wreaths.
“To mark this great South African, people worldwide are celebrating his birthday today – it has never happened with anyone and it will take a very long time before it happens again,” the mayor said.
The mayor said Mandela, born and bred in the village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape province, became a famous and loved international statesman despite his humble background.
“Where you are coming from should never be a determining factor about what you can achieve in life,” Manyoni said.
“And it does not mean you cannot overcome challenges and turn your life around – take it from Mandela.”