Shame on you City of CT
Yesterday the City of Cape Town announced it had set aside a whopping R72 million for a contingency plan to honour Nelson Mandela across the city. This follows Madiba's death on Thursday night at his Houghton home in Johannesburg. He had been battling a recurring lung infection which he developed during his 27-year incarceration.
The city says it is important that everyone gets an opportunity to pay their last respects to the first president of a democratic South Africa, who is also fondly known as the Father of the Nation.
I cannot comprehend the need to spend so much money on commemorative activities. This is the same city that recently saw thousands of people from informal settlements descend on the city centre demanding housing. The same city that has portable flush toilets. Imagine the difference R72 million would make in the lives of poor people!
Not so long ago, 36 informal settlements across the city were flooded during flash floods. This happens each and every year. These communities do not have proper drainage systems or roads. This section of our community only makes the news when there's a shack fire, floods or mob killings. They live in one of the "best-run municipalities" in the country and yet they have nothing to show for it.
The DA-led City of Cape Town has been telling anyone who cares to listen that it is pro-poor. It boggles the mind that they would spend so much money on events while scores of people go to bed hungry. Who is the city trying to impress with this senseless expenditure?
According to a study by the University of Cape Town's African Food Security Unit Network, 40 percent of people go to bed hungry at least once a week in Cape Town. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in January revealed that 12 million South Africans are "food insecure".
Meanwhile, thousands of people will be bussed in from different communities to pay their last respects to the global icon at this exorbitant cost. Later, they will return to their homes to find hungry children and the elderly in shacks in densely populated areas.
Since Madiba's passing every speaker has been urging South Africans to keep his legacy alive. Is this the way to do it? Yes, Mandela is a legend but that shouldn't make us insensitive to the plight of the poor. I won't pretend to know what the former statesman would have wanted, but logically people who are alive should come first.
Lindiwe Mlandu is an EWN online content producer.