Giyani was once the capital town of the Gazankulu Bantustan government. Under apartheid it suffered forced removals, land grabs and all the other evils perpetrated by the former government. Propping up the Bantustan, some infrastructure and institutions were established. They were poorly funded and inadequate, an insult even, but they were something to build on – at least, that was hoped at the end of apartheid.
In fewer than 30 years the ANC regime bulldozed everything. The University of Gazankulu is gone. Giyani College is gone. The Hoxani College of Education is buried. The Giyani Nursing College, deceased. The Giyani airport, crashed. The parliament buildings (yes, there was a Gazankulu parliament) are barely hanging on. The Giyani Science Centre, no more. The Giyani Agricultural College, long gone.
More than just taking away these institutions, the ANC has taken away the dignity of the people of Giyani in the most ruthless and savage way.
These educational institutions could have built up our people, helped to develop our local economy, equip and upskill people. The democratic institutions could have let our voices be heard about our needs, concerns and solutions. By letting them fall into ruin or simply shutting them down, the ANC has let our prospects for the future fall into ruin.
Our dignity is in ruins too.
How else can you explain the people packed to the rafters at the dilapidated Giyani Stadium for the ANC rally that took place on 23 September 2023? Shangaan-Tsonga people have no dignity and self-pride left. Without dignity and pride, the oppressor becomes the saviour.
Inside the stadium, the people ignored their own thirst, their poverty, the lack of electricity and healthcare, and went to kiss the feet of those who engineered their suffering. Yes, come the 2024 elections, the people of Giyani, Nkowankowa, Malamulele and Bushbuckridge will give the ANC a landslide victory.
The oppressed people of Giyani are scared into voting ANC for fear of losing out on what little support they do get.
These same people have children who have to seek education in Pretoria and elsewhere, living under the most terrible conditions because they have no money and no support. They live in a town that has constant water shortage, but is surrounded by three overflowing dams.
They have access to a hospital, but God help them if they’re ever admitted to it.
Yet Giyani came out in big numbers to salute those who authored their humiliation. When the enemy takes away your dignity and self-worth, they own your soul. We would do well to remember the words of Steve Biko: “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
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The oppressed people of Giyani are scared into voting ANC for fear of losing out on what little support they do get. When voting time comes around, ANC members will visit the elderly with T-shirts and scare stories of opposition parties taking away their grants, and that nobody else can provide service delivery.
The younger people have given up hope of anything changing with their vote.
And it’s convenient for the ANC that education is so poor in Giyani because that way our youth stay ignorant of our struggle and of how things might change, through voting or community organising.
That’s why I’m appealing to Giyani, Phalaborwa, Nkowankowa and Malamulele – we need to be united and develop imbizos to discuss the way forward before the 2024 elections. It’s time to consider alternative ideas and alternative political parties, because leaving the ANC in power has become too much of a risk to our safety and our future. DM