STRAND – As residents waited in the rain for President Jacob Zuma in Lwandle, near Strand, on Thursday, they hoped their prayers for dry homes would be answered.
Zuma had been due to visit the area in August but cancelled to address a march outside Parliament. He kept residents waiting six hours, arriving around 16:00 when the promised start of the ANC programme was 10:00.
People packed the community hall in anticipation for his return, singing out his name and dancing in a circle.
Their joy was offset by the concerns that many residents expressed to News24.
Zimbini Swelleni said they wanted to escape their dire living conditions in the Polile informal settlement.
She hoped Zuma would deliver houses.
Mom of three young kids, Monica Manana, said it was hard living in shacks that flooded often.
Zuma was scheduled to do a walkabout of the area.
She hoped he would visit the shacks and not just the brick houses.
Trying to raise four children in a flooded house was not easy, shared 44-year-old Johan Sibiya.
Soil often dirtied their floors and sails that were given to them did little to keep water away.
“He’s been the president for a long time. We’ve been in a shack for over 20 years. Most people want him to step down.”
Residents dodged rubble and rubbish floating down the streets to make their way to the venue.
Grade 11 pupil Philasande Mehlo arrived at the hall despite being seemingly unimpressed with the head of state.
“I’m here to see the man that sold our country,” the 17-year-old said, explaining that Zuma only cared about his own rights.
She had been robbed a few times while walking to school and said there was little police visibility.
“There are guys who rape here. There are people who have no shelters.”
Zuma had not yet arrived by 15:00.
PHOTO: President Jacob Zuma waves during the ANC policy conference in Johannesburg. (Themba Hadebe, AP, file)