President Jacob Zuma believed that allocating houses to the residents of a white squatter camp in Danville would be a great way to celebrate Mandela Day. They applied for their homes in January this year. It is not clear if he expected that the black residents of a nearby informal settlement in Atteridgeville who applied for RDP homes as far back as the year 2000 would find fault with his reasoning.
According to Independent Online, President Zuma received nothing but appreciation when he arrived in Danville on Thursday. On the day that Nelson Mandela, the icon of peace, unity and freedom celebrates his 95th birthday, Zuma did not see black and white. He said: “It is only here that I see a mixed crowd with different races… as one. It is with ordinary people that this feeling of oneness exists.” The presidency echoed that the housing scheme provided low-cost housing for both black and white families.
President Zuma was so set on keeping the promises he made to the residents of Danville on his previous visit that he fast-tracked the allocation of the homes. He also delivered an identity document to an elderly man who had been struggling to get it for a long time. Zuma was pleased that the man could now apply for his pension. The president described the emotional moment: “He was with his sister and brother-in-law and they all started crying.” Zuma spent a lovely morning with the residents of Danville, sharing jokes and showing them around their new homes.
On the other side of the fence, black squatters demand answers as to why white squatters received their homes within six months of applying for them when some black squatters have been waiting for more than a decade. Also, the residents of Danville did not have to stand in the long queues; their application forms were hand-delivered and collected by officials from the Gauteng Department of Housing. Unlike President Zuma, the black squatters do not see a picture of unity and equality in this situation.
A Times Live report spoke of Sheila Moyo who is 50 years old and unemployed. Moyo said: “He must see for himself the conditions we are living in and then tell us how come we have been on the housing waiting list for over 11 years when some people can get their houses within months.” Others accused Zuma of trying to garner votes for next year’s elections.
The mixed reactions in these two informal settlements in the west of Pretoria did not overshadow the Mandela Day celebrations in the rest of the country and throughout the world. The Pretoria Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital where Madiba has spent more than a month receiving treatment for his lung condition has been a hive of activity since the early hours of Thursday morning. President Jacob Zuma also made time to lead military members who sang the national anthem and ‘Happy Birthday Mandela’ outside the hospital. The presidency maintains that Nelson Mandela remains in a critical but stable condition and family members say that he is responding well to treatment though he is still critically ill.