Opinionista Orateng Lepodise 26 April 2018

An open letter to North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo

Thank you for the McDonald's but it's time the North West gets a chance to rebuild itself.

Dear Supra Mahumapelo (Sr),

Entering Mahikeng at about 10pm on Friday, my heart bled for my city. Despite all that I had seen on television about what was happening in the place I call home, it never really registered until I arrived back on Friday night. It felt like a piece of me was being destroyed.

I felt like a stranger in this place of my childhood memories.

Imagine being asked to pay R50 by teenagers who, taking advantage of the situation, set up a make-shift toll gate.

Imagine seeing the shops that provide for daily basics being looted,  soft targets when you consider the point of the protests – your removal.

Imagine being afraid to go outside because you risk being shot by a rubber bullet… or worse.

The small city I took pride in hailing from became a virtual ghost town,  a place no longer familiar, no longer safe. But you don’t care, do you?

See Mr Supra Mahumapelo, Mahikeng used to be paradise to me and other residents until you came. There were good schools that provided quality education so much so that my friends and I used to argue about who went to the better school.

Now I know of schools where the kids have spent a whole year without having access to text books. Can you imagine your son not having access to the books he needs to study? Probably not.

How many young lives should be destroyed before you admit that you have failed as a leader and more specifically as premier?

Sir, you complained the other day that people were comparing you to Ubaba ka Duduzane, and you had every right to. You see while former president Jacob Zuma has done grave damage to the country, he still pretended to care for his people. You have not even bothered to pretend to care. Stop Stockouts Projects reports that 394 health facilities do not have access to essential medicines that desperately ill residents of your province need.  If you cared, you would have done something by now.

Instead, the army has been called in to help. What an indictment on you, sir.

I must congratulate you on your son’s achievement in landing a R1-million bursary from Denel though. At least he will be among the minority of young people from the province who have an opportunity to do something with his life. We won’t ask whether he should have received the bursary in the first place, we know what your answer will be and besides as you said, you will repay it… “if you have to”.

I am angry, Sir.

You see, you have been premier for four years but what is there to show for it?

In Mahikeng, residents avoid drinking the tap water because we never know whether it’s clean or not.

In Delareyville, residents don’t even have access to tap water, they are reliant on jojo tanks that are situated, in some cases, kilometres from their homes. Can you imagine, 24 years into democracy and you still have to carry water on your head? Of course you can’t.

In towns all over the province young people loiter, their dreams deferred as they scrabble to put food on the table.

What will it take for this situation change? For you to open your eyes and your ears? How much more violence and destruction must happen before you or your principals act?  When your smooth talk no longer has an effect? When there’s nothing left to steal or destroy?

My home town has been burnt, my childhood haunts are now just a memory.

When will we have a government that listens to the people before violence erupts?

So Mr  Mahumapelo, thank you for the McDonald’s and the cinema that you built but it’s time you give the North West an opportunity to rebuild itself. DM

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