Public Service and Administration Deputy Minister, Dr Chana Pilane-Majake visited the St John the Baptist, Old Age Home on Monday in Winterveldt-northwest of Tshwane, where she donated blankets to the elderly.
The event concluded the activities of the Deputy Minister for Women’s Month which is attributed to the more than 20 000 women who staged a historic march on August 9, 1956 at the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the proposed amendments to the Urban Areas Act, commonly known as the pass laws of 1950.
This year’s Women’s Month was celebrated under the theme: Women’s Socio-Economic Rights Empowerment: Building Back Better for Women’s Improved Resilience.”
When the Deputy Minister arrived at the Centre, all wheelchair-bound senior citizens and those who used walking sticks to maintain their balance and stability were kitted for the occasion with the elders wearing their red and white t-shirts with the Centre’s logo and name.
With their Centre situated in the deep rural area of Winterveldt, where there is no tar road, the 60 senior citizens who reside at the facility thought that they were forgotten by government. However, when they saw the Deputy Minister arriving flanked by the Ward Councillor, Cllr Chris Masia, senior citizens could not hide their happiness as they started singing.
Addressing the elders, Deputy Minister Pilane-Majake said: “It is not all about the blankets, but what it is important is this special visit to your centre to show you love. We are a caring government. Yes, there is so much that still needs to be done, but what is good is to see government led development in the historically disadvantaged communities.
“Truth be told, before the dawn of democracy, in most black communities, there were no access to clean drinkable water, no roads, no health facilities and schools.
“While there are those who are criticizing our government, what we know is that it was not easy to challenge the apartheid government, now we say to you, don’t be confused by wrong messages from the many political organisations in our country, you need to continue to know who you are, where you come from and where you are going.
“It is the intention of the current administration to get rid of all pit latrines. In our department, we promote Ubuntu and as we serve you, we do that in a dignified way and in an efficient and effective manner,” she said.
The Deputy Minister further said that today in the country, learners are getting meals in public schools, the poor are getting free houses and free healthcare services.
“During the apartheid era, it was mainly children of nurses, teachers and the police officers and businesspeople who were able to go to university, but today, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is providing poor and working class South African students with fully subsidised free higher education and training.
“Today, because of NSFAS, we have qualified Doctors, lawyers and engineers, but what is important is for us to keep on reminding them not be greedy, but to continue to help those who are less fortunate in their respective communities,” she said.
When asked about the significance of the Deputy Minister’s visit in the area, Ward 24 Councillor, Cllr Chris Masia said: “we value and appreciate this special visit to this centre catering for the elderly in our area. We believe the visit will inspire the elders to never give-up hope in their government.
“This is the government that cares about its people, this shows that the elders are not neglected, and this is to renew their belief in the current government that they still have a caring government that put people first. From time to time as a leader in the area, I am always in touch with all stakeholders in my Ward including this centre. We do this because we don’t want a situation where centers like this are neglected,” he said.
Cllr Masia also raised the issue of undocumented foreign nationals that their situation is putting additional pressure on service delivery.
The Centre Manager, Mr Harold Msiza said: “We want to thank the Deputy Minister for visiting us and that the blankets are greatly appreciated by the elders. Senior citizens like it so much when government leaders visit them, with this special visit, they felt very honoured.
“We have 60 elders who are full-time at the residential facility and 40 more who come daily and return to their respective households. Some of our challenges is water, we also need tar road as this gravel road is not good. We are also faced with mobile network problem in this area.”
Winterveldt Parliamentary Constituency Office field worker, Ms Jane Masemola, said: “my work is to bring Parliamentarians closer to the people in order for them to listen to the day-to-day challenges of residents and more importantly to provide solutions to those challenges.”