Residents in this Soweto home for the aged reckon Zuma’s not all that bad

President Jacob Zuma is not exactly winning popularity contests these days. But he insisted this week that he is still well liked. And at one home for the aged in Meadowlands, MBALI ZWANE found that the president might actually be right.

Dora MbongoDora Mbongo, 78
I love President Zuma and old people who know politics, will know the role he played. He knows what has to be done. Some things that are happening in our township are not because of government but because young people don’t want to listen to the elderly. Drugs from foreign lands are killing our youth. Young people must listen to the elderly because we’ve lived longer and we know how life goes. I went to go report my child who wanted to sell drugs in my house, the response from the police was helpful, they assisted me to kick him out. I’m not complaining about my pension because it’s better than nothing, others don’t get anything. If it hadn’t been for the government providing us with these services, we would’ve eaten each other alive.

Elizabeth MbuliElizabeth Mbuli, 81

What hurts me the most is the manner in which young people talk to older people. Even if an older person is at fault, the young ones should watch their tone and choose their words carefully when reprimanding an elder. I’m happy about the president’s efforts because he is trying. He makes changes and promises better. People are problematic because they always want more. We see his efforts to improve the way we live, and we should know that it’s not possible for him to provide all that we need or want. We get the pension money and it might not be enough, but we’re able to get by. Times would be tough without it. I’ve seen a difference in governance, because I’ve lived through the old and new South Africa. Things are much better now. Young people are too free, they use their freedom recklessly. They’re showing us things we haven’t seen in our times – particularly bad things – but there are good as well. We’re hopeful.

ZachariahZachariah Ncimbi, 87
I’ve loved Zuma since our days in Sophiatown and the ANC but what he’s done recently by building his house with so much money, didn’t sit well with me. He must pay back the money, even if it’s just half of it. Mbeki did a good job after Mandela. Zuma has also done well since taking over from Mbeki; the only problem is the money he used to build his house. I love the new South Africa. White people harassed and abused us in the old SA, I went to school in Zambia just to come to SA and be ruled by some white people who didn’t go to school at all. That’s one of the ways in which they oppressed us. There’s been a lot of changes since then and I’m happy. The government makes it possible for me to give my grandchildren pocket money for school and I’m able to get my treatment from the clinic at no cost. The nurses are full of it though because some of these nurses are abusive and impatient. The president must investigate them and have informers in the clinic. Maybe in April, the money will increase.

Violet MotshegoeViolet Motshegoe, 69
President Jacob Zuma has done his part and he can clear the way for a new person to lead us. I’m grateful for all he’s done. We’re proud of SA but more can be done to change the way things are. At the moment, we’re living with foreign nationals, who are treated better than us. They work here and own shops on every corner but we’re harassed when we want to sell outside our yards. The pension we get from the government is not much but we’re able to get through the month. This is the best country, that’s why other people leave their countries to come here. Our quality of life is much better than what it was years ago. Young people must go to school and learn, because if they don’t, we will be led by people outside our country.

Voxes have been edited for brevity and clarity
Featured image by Mbali Zwane