Residents of the troubled Zandspruit settlement, north of Johannesburg, appealed to DA leader Mmusi Maimane to rescue them from living in squalor when he visited the informal settlement on Freedom Day yesterday.
Some disgruntled residents said they were putting their hopes on the DA to bring change to the area and accused ANC leaders of turning a blind eye to their demands for service delivery.
Last month, police fired rubber bullets on a crowd of Zandspruit residents protesting lack of basic services, including houses and electricity.
Yesterday, several people in the area indicated they would vote for the DA, instead of the ANC, in the upcoming local government elections.
Tshidiso Mathibela said: “I have lost hope in the ANC because we live in bad conditions with no electricity.”
Elizabeth Kotsiwe said she would also opt for the DA.
“The ANC has failed us and I want to vote for change,” she said after speaking to Maimane near her shack.
“I have been staying in this shack since 2000 and water leaks in whenever it rains. We are tired of listening to the empty promises of the ANC government.”
Maimane and other DA leaders, including Johannesburg mayoral candidate Herman Mashaba, walked through rutted streets, wet with flowing sewage water, talking to residents as the unbearable smell of human excrement hung in the air.
While many people happily greeted Maimane, one resident, Mshengu Shabalala, shouted: “I will vote for the ANC.”
Shabalala, 56, admitted that Zandspruit was underdeveloped, but said he believed the ANC would improve the area after recalling President Jacob Zuma.
Addressing the 400-strong crowd later, Maimane accused Joburg City mayor Parks Tau of defending Zuma, while ignoring the plight of Zandspruit residents.
“I wish I could say happy Freedom Day to you, but what is freedom if people live in bad conditions? We can’t sit here and listen to the lies of the people of Luthuli House. There’s been no change here since 1994.”