A tornado that ripped through Winnie Mandela informal settlement in Tembisa, Ekurhuleni, has presented a “gift” for political parties.
With days to go before the local government elections, the ANC and EFF were falling over each other trying to get votes in the area in which the disaster struck on Tuesday.
ANC bigwigs trade and industry deputy minister and Ekurhuleni mayoral candidate Mzwandile Masina and MEC for economic development and ANC Gauteng provincial executive committee member Lebogang Maile descended on the area, which is considered an ANC stronghold.
They moved from house to house assessing the damage and dishing out ANC T-shirts. EFF leader Julius Malema and party spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi also visited families whose houses were destroyed by the storm.
Interestingly, there was political tolerance when ANC and EFF leaders, along with two party supporters, came face to face.
Masina, Maile and Malema greeted and shook hands with each other.
Excitement was in the air as everyone, including the media, wanted to capture the moment. After an exchange of pleasantries, it was back to business.
Responding to an accusation by Malema that the disaster would present an opportunity for the ANC to loot government resources while it pretends to be helping people out, Masina said: “I think it is unfortunate that someone who claims to be leading a political party can speak like that. A disaster has struck here. It is unfortunate that there are now some allegations by those who are not in government.
“How can a disaster be an opportunity for the ANC?” Masina asked.
“Who knew that there was going to be this disaster?
“It is very stupid to say the least.”
Masina said it was the ANC’s plan to be in the area.
“We are here to see for ourselves the amount of damage but also to reassure our citizens that our government is a caring government,” he said.
“The safety of our people is a priority.”
Maile lashed out at the EFF, saying the party was desperate to get more seats so that it could have people who would pay subscription fees every month.
“We know that they charge their public representatives ridiculous amounts of money so that they can sustain their lifestyles,” Maile charged.
Speaking on the sidelines of his visit to the area, Malema said his party had to abandon its planned rally in Tembisa due to the disaster.
“I asked the leadership of Tembisa that we should come here, talk to our people and see for ourselves the damage caused,” Malema said.
Malema said the ANC was only a strong party because it was ruling almost every province in the country.
“It doesn’t matter where the ANC is strong, the EFF goes everywhere and our people are tired of the ANC,” the firebrand leader said.