FOR Ronald Mthambi, a resident of Giyani in Limpopo, freedom has brought new opportunities and a better life compared to the dark days of apartheid.
He now has a good job as well as access to basic services such as electricity; tarred roads; sanitation and healthcare facilities.
While water pipes have been connected in the area, the precious liquid has been in short supply since 2010.
Mthambi was among thousands of ANC supporters who packed the Giyani Stadium to listen to President Jacob Zuma deliver his Freedom Day celebration speech alongside dozens of cabinet ministers and other senior party officials.
He said while the lives of the middle class people like him had changed for the better, the ruling party still had a long way to go in improving the lives of the poor and unemployed.
“The majority of our people depend so much on social grants and we need to change that. We need to give them skills and job opportunities so they could sustain themselves,” said Mthambi.
However, not everyone is happy with the ruling party’s service delivery record.
Joyce Tiyani Mavasa, of Ribugwani village near Makhando, said while the government had improved her life, it had failed to provide jobs and reliable water.
Basani Maluleke, from Malamulele, complained about lack of basic services like roads in the rural areas.
She said the government had neglected her and other residents who live in the villages in favour of those in the towns and the townships.
“Most of the roads in our area are still gravel 22 years into democracy. My living conditions have hardly changed, “Maluleke said.
Her neighbour Robert Chabalala (40), an ardent ANC member from Thomo village, said he had lost hope of ever finding a job.
He said: “Many people my age are unlikely to get a job despite the freedom we are celebrating. We are facing a bleak future.”
Tinyiko Baloyi (45), a teacher at the local Mavalani Primary School, said she was pleased that Zuma received a warm welcome in Giyani despite calls by opposition parties and some civil society organisations for him to step down for having violated the constitution.
She said the president’s detractors must allow him space to finish his term of office because people love him.
Addressing the gathering, Zuma promised to improve the lives of the people and improve the provision of
basic services especially water.
“To redress the critical shortage of water, government, through the Department of Water and Sanitation issued an emergency directive in August 2014 to Lepelle Northern Water to regularise water and sanitation in the Mopani district,” Zuma said.
He added that 154 boreholes had been repaired as part of the intervention.