1 December 2017

South Africa: Zuma Promised Me a House

Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane/GroundUp
Mbuso “British” Mkhize outside his home.

Four years ago, President Jacob Zuma promised Mbuso Mkhize a house. Known to his friends as "British", 73-year-old Mkhize lost his left arm and leg after an illness. His lower body is paralysed and he uses a wheelchair. His wife died five years ago and he stays alone in one room of a mud house in Snathing, Pietermaritzburg.

He sleeps, cooks and baths in the room. The other two rooms are uninhabitable due to heavy rains. The walls are pockmarked with holes and the windows are broken. A neighbour fetches water for Mkhize because the water pipes to his tap have been stolen.

Four years ago, Zuma together with other ministers, visited Mkhize at his home and promised a house would be built for him. He says ward councillor Sipho Madonda was tasked by the President to ensure he received a house urgently.

"Nothing has happened. They left and that was it. No one ever came back to tell me if there were developments," says Mkhize. He says Madonda told him he'd find a temporary place in the meantime, but that did not happen either.

Asked what had gone wrong, Madonda said Zuma was campaigning and "he promised him [Mkhize] a house". But he says Zuma's office never said anything after that. "There is nothing I can do to assist him. We are still waiting," said Madonda.

"I can only move using a wheelchair. The floor is bare and it is difficult when it's wet. The trip to the toilet is difficult especially when it rains. The wheelchair on its own is old. I'm left with this one after I borrowed a neighbour the one I had," he says.

"I'm left in the dark and clueless ... What breaks my heart is that I'm man in a wheelchair. I had hope when the President came. I was even given an idea that I am a priority case. That gave me hope," says Mkhize.

Spokesperson at the Presidency Bongani Ngqulunga asked for Mkhize's details. He has since not responded to GroundUp's attempts to get comment.

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