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The Eastern Cape Province of South Africa

The way I see it - a hard and bitter truth

Before you even read on, be prepared for an honest and open personal view of the so called “state-of-the nation” as far as the Eastern Cape is concerned. This said, the article is written from someone who was born and bred in the Eastern Cape, someone who knows every corner, but has also lived in and travelled through many other cities. I, somewhat arrogantly perhaps, believe that I am well read; street-wise and sufficiently objective enough to call it the way I see it. This said, I will tone the rhetoric down a notch and try to ensure that I maintain a reasonable and balanced view wherever possible. I was born in Port Elizabeth, too many years ago to want to remember, and have been schooled here, studied at a local university and have worked here for many years. Alan Hawkins.

Why do our Eastern Cape children suffer so?

Many years of statistics as far as school leaving pass rates go, prove without doubt that the Eastern Cape children must be less intelligent (or more stupid) than those in other provinces? Our failure rate is after all the worst in the country! What absolute rubbish! Our children cannot be dumber than the others so it must be our incompetent teachers? But they all have the same qualifications surely? The only logical conclusion must be that the state employees and government bodies responsible for local education are continually failing the Eastern Cape children. The cause could be all or any of the following: maladministration; incompetence; apathy or down right neglect a combination of all.

Why are our roads so bad?

Why is it that, when travelling from the Eastern Cape into the Western Cape, there is a sudden improvement of the road surface; the skills of the drivers are better and motorist behaviour becomes far more normal? If one did a study by province of the average number of pot-holes per kilometre of road, I am confident East London and the Eastern Cape would win by far - hardly an accolade is it?  

The East London beach front!

Oh dear! What a mess! Thank goodness for the outlying beaches and coastal tracts because the city’s esplanade is simply awful. Stroll amongst the littler; broken glass; used condoms and beggars. Get your car washed, if you wish by the hawkers who call you with their dirty rags as you pass. An embarrassment to those who live here. Now take a trip to nearby Port Elizabeth. The city fathers will present to you what must be the finest shore-front in the country. Now if they can do this, I pose the question to the East London Council (or Buffalo City Municipal Metro to be exact), why can’t you?  What is wrong with your management and development skills? How far is this city going to degrade before you actually do something positive and no, a couple of Christmas lights an a new pole or two are simply not good enough. Get off your backsides and do what we pay you to do!

The Eastern Cape country districts.

I don’t know when last you drove through some of the old Eastern Cape villages. I’m referring to the likes of Elliot; Dordrecht; Tarkastad and all the many others. All I see are growing townships; expanding graveyards; no employment opportunities and towns whose inhabitants are surviving on social grants! It is certainly nice to see some housing projects but come on, the people who voted the government into power are looking for more than a 2x4 house. Life cannot begin and end by producing children and waiting for your grant each month. What about self-worth; self-esteem and opportunity? Will the children born from township boredom ever be able to break out of the shackles of their parental home - what opportunities await them other than the 25% (and growing) unemployment rate? Come on guys, we expected more when we voted you into power.

The Eastern Cape Parks Board!

Or whatever you call yourselves nowadays. Please, I have seen the wonderful work of SanParks who have kept; maintained and improved many of South Africa’s wonderful natural assets. But the ECPTA? What have you done other than waste your marketing budget on golf tournaments; entertained yourselves and occupied your fancy and expensive offices? Look for example at Baviaansklloof, a world heritage site for which you are responsible. What a mess it is, why don’t you give it to SanParks? The GFRR (Great Fish River Reserve), are you making money out of selling game, buffalo for example? Where is this money going to? Is it ring-fenced to go toward conservation or does it get sucked up into other budgets? I don’t have all the answers save to say that the land tracts cared for by you are no where near the standards set by SanParks, a model that you could perhaps learn from.

Have you read this far?

Contrary to what you might think, I love this beautiful province of the Eastern Cape. I love East London with it’s three navigable rivers. I love the people and the history that surrounds us. I love the old buildings, the unique and untamed Wild Coast, our beautiful Indian Ocean and our uniqueness. What abhors me and why do I write all this? I am and have been extremely frustrated these past years as I see children suffer; the growth of the homeless and hopeless. I see wealthy people, potential investors departing each week for the Western Cape, overseas and elsewhere. Let them go I hear you say? But with them goes mental capacity; investment funds and entrepreneurial expertise.

Not for the sensitive reader - a frustrating personal tirade - a frank but somewhat sad view of a once mighty province and people, one degrading before our very eyes.