Bethal can rise from years of neglect – Register to vote

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

Yesterday I visited the town of Bethal and Emzinoni in the Govan Mbeki Municipality. Having spent many of my childhood days growing up on a mining village in the nearby vicinity, I know the town well.

While it is evident that some degree of delivery has taken place, some RDP houses have been built, access to the local health facilities (poor as it may be) and access to education has been broadened, a once flourishing local economy driven by agriculture and industry has practically collapsed.

Many businesses have closed shop, factories have closed as investors withdrew, the remaining agriculture sector is under severe pressure, some shopping complexes stand empty and roads infrastructure is on the verge of disintegration.

Poverty and unemployment abounds.

The town is dirty, street lights don’t work. Water supply is unreliable and the slightest sign of thunderous weather activity plunges the entire community into darkness (just as it did last night), with power outages often lasting for days at a time. In fact, every time I visit Bethal the signs of decay, deterioration and government neglect become more and more evident.

In many ways, Bethal and Emzinoni have been relegated to become the ‘step-child’ of the Govan Mbeki municipality, whose primary offices are located in Secunda (not that matters are significantly better there).

The town is a far cry from realising the dream and vision of Madiba and has become a symbol of life under Jacob Zuma’s ANC. So too leaders such as Premier David Mabuza, his cabinet, the executive mayor and other ANC leaders turn a blind eye to the challenges and disintegration of communities like Emzinoni and Bethal, with quality service delivery occupying the minimal portion of any priority list.

The fact is it does not have to be like that. I met residents from all walks of life eager to make a difference in the community. Despite their daily frustrations they are committed to see the towns of Emzinoni and Bethal return to a path of opportunity, prosperity, safety, tidiness and unity.

The DA will work with them to achieve this. But it is without a doubt the power vested directly in the hands of those very residents that can change this community and once again rekindle the dream of a better life – their vote.

Under Zuma’s ANC, tender obsession, jobs for pals and corruption will continue, with little hope for the future. But, in a unified action directed at the betterment of their lives, these residents can use their power to choose a better life by voting for a party that is committed to serving their interest first. It is the DA only, which understands that in order to bring about a better life for all; we need to create job opportunities in this area.

We need to attract investment, starting by inviting those industries who have left, to return to this community.

Through a massive clean-up operation and the rectification of basic services such as water provision and sanitation – and our active commitment to addressing the wide-spread housing shortage in this community, coupled with building and fostering relationships amongst all communities – we can restore the dignity and pride of residents.

But, in order to bring about democratic change through the ballot box, residents of Emzinoni and Bethal must ensure they are registered to vote in Election 2014. On 8 and 9 February, residents will have the last chance to register for the upcoming 2014 General Election – then go out and vote – and together we can set the people of Emzinoni and Bethal on the path of attaining a better life all.