Mixed reaction to Cyril’s Bloemfontein visit

Free State premier, Sisi Ntombela, joined the president on stage. PHOTO: PIERCE VAN HEERDEN

Although excitement among most residents of Mangaung about President Cyril Ramaphosa’s visit to the city on Monday was almost tangible, it was also met with some resistance in certain communities.

Crowds in Phase 6, an informal settlement in Bloemfontein, booed ANC chairperson in the Free State, Sam Mashinini, off the stage during the Bloemfontein leg of the Thuma Mina trail events in the province, Pulane Choane reported.

This forced Ramaphosa to take the podium earlier than he had hoped to. Rumblings made by this community during Ramaphosa’s address suggested that the community was unhappy with the local ANC structures in the province.

As Ramaphosa told members of the crowd of his plan to oust corruption at national, provincial and local level, the crowd expressed to him that they did not believe him and bluntly told him that their experience with corrupt local officials has taught them that where there’s money for projects, there will be corruption. In stark contrast, the community of Heidedal met Ramaphosa with open arms during his visit to the Opkoms Clinic.

Nomaqhawe Mtebele reported that Ramaphosa, along with Premier Sisi Ntombela, took a stance for the health of community members by promising the improvement of Opkoms Clinic. Residents of Heidedal greeted the president with jubilant song and dance at the clinic.

One resident, Hleliwe Thena, said that meeting Ramaphosa was like meeting former President Nelson Mandela. “I am so happy. It feels like it is Nelson Mandela who has come here, we will see changes after the visit. You can see that he is somebody who can make changes,” Thena said.

Another resident, Agnes Seekoei, said that she was glad that a leader of the country was visiting the area. “I am very impressed because he is the first president who has decided to come to Heidedal Clinic and visit us. We are very excited. I thank him and I ask God to give him more blessings,” stated Seekoei. Ramaphosa visited the clinic along with Executive Mayor of Mangaung Metro, Olly Mlamleli, and various MECs where he met with a contractor set to make improvements to the centre.

Bloemfontein Courant has previously reported that Opkoms Clinic was facing a number of issues such as broken air-conditioning and damaged ceilings and walls. It was also jubilation all around as Ramaphosa paid a visit to the Bloemfontein taxi rank in the CBD, reported Olebogeng Motse. The visit, which took place during rush hour, formed part of the ANC’s Free State leg of the Thuma Mina trail.

Residents said that they were happy that the president had not only visited Bloemfontein, but that he came to see the R400 million taxi rank which has been standing empty close to seven years after it had been opened. Street vendor, Johannes Papi Mokwa, said he was happy to meet Ramaphosa and have him acknowledge what he does daily. Mokwa said he was even happier that Ramaphosa was there to see the controversial taxi rank which is just standing there, being a hub for criminal activity and violent muggings. – CMG Team