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SOCA gets thumbs up from Joburg residents


Johannesburg Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau’s State of the City Address, beamed live to several public viewing areas across the city on Wednesday 6 May was positively received by residents.

While many residents welcomed the speech, there were some who received it with “guarded optimism” whilst a few others expressed murmurs of unhappiness.

The mood was buoyant at the Joubert Park public viewing area in the Johannesburg inner city.

Sim’thembile Mkhoze, 30, who recently moved from Bloemfontein to Johannesburg because the latter offered him the best possible chance for a brighter future, said he was encouraged by Mayor Tau’s speech.

Willie Dlamini, a 52-year-old unemployed Orange Farm mechanic, said the City’s stated commitment to economic growth made him hopeful of finding a job soon.

“I was highly impressed with what the Mayor said today. I was encouraged by the fact politicians are getting serious about these things. It is great to hear them talk about prioritising jobs and building infrastructure and the like. But at the end of the day we, the people, will reserve our judgment,” Dlamini said.

Faith Mngomezulu, who moved to Johannesburg from Durban to study Social Work, said the Executive Mayor seemed to be “an intelligent and driven man”.

“I believe him when he says these things. The way he and the City of Johannesburg are driving these things make me positive about my decision to move and settle here,” she said.

Wheelchair-bound Thokozani Dlamini, 36, wheeled himself to the park to watch the Mayor deliver his speech. He said he was impressed by his commitment to roll up his sleeves for a better future but was disappointed by the “slow place of economic growth, dilapidated buildings and exorbitant rent in the city”.

Andile Nkosi of Fox Lake in Dlamini, Soweto, said he was impressed with the content of the speech and the way it was delivered. However, Nkosi, who watched the address at the Thokoza Park public viewing area in Rockville, Soweto, lamented the poor turnout at the fan park. He said it was a pity that the SOCA was delivered during the day, when most residents were at work.

Pensioner Sibongile Mvelase said that from what she could gather, there was a lot of emphasis on the youth in the speech.

“But please don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing. But they should not forget about the elderly,” Gogo Mvelase said.

She said though age had taught her to always be sceptical, the developments she was seeing in Soweto proved that “something is being done to reverse years of apartheid underdevelopment”.

“Bona baya zama, shem. Nawe uyazibonela ukuthi iSoweto ayisafani nakudala. (They are trying to do their best. As you can see for yourself, Soweto is not the same as before),” she said.

Hawker Pat Hlengwa criticised the use of English in the speech and asked why the Mayor was not addressing residents in, say, isiZulu “because not all of us have gone to school”.

The 32-year-old Rockville resident said there was a lot of talk but she wished more could be done to alleviate the plight of the poor. Some of the residents living around Thokoza Park explained why there was a poor turnout at the public viewing area. They said there was no need to go to the park as the speech was also broadcast on community radio stations.

Lulu Mthimkulu, 37, a mother of three, said she did her washing while listening to the speech on Jozi FM. She was happy that more Wi-Fi hotspots were being created, saying this would significantly bring down her airtime and data costs. Unemployed father of three Sazi Molefyane was sceptical about the speech, saying he would adopt a wait-and-see attitude.

“Sizobona mak'hambiskhathi (We’ll have to give it a bit of time),” he said.