As the killer COVID-19 continues to ravage the world everyone is trying to follow health guidelines and observe extreme social distancing and protect themselves and families from coming into contact with the virus.
However, many councilors’s political career has thrown them into the deep end as they find themselves having to chose between serving their communities and locking themselves inside their homes at the expense of losing the next elections.
Councilors maintain that they have to serve their communities even though by so doing they are exposing themselves to the dreadful virus.
Matlapana councilor, Kobamelo Baikgodise says the movement restriction or lockdown has especially increased their workload.
“Our phones are ringing off the hook. We hardly get a full night sleep without being called to assist a community member in some way or the other,” he pointed out.
Baikgodise even recalled one very distressing call recently.
“I got a call to go and take an elderly woman to the hospital. The signs of her ailment were pointing to corona virus, I tried calling the hospital, they referred me to Matshwane clinic where a doctor in turn told me that at that given time there was no available transport. I had to take the woman to a nearby clinic where it was discovered that she was actually dehydrated!”
The councilor added that, in his ward that include Sexaxa where almost everybody does not have a vehicle, a councillor’s vihicle is shared with the community.
A councillor is expected to assist with grocery shopping and his car serves as an ambulance and a hearse too during funerals.
“some of these people are extremely poor. They hustle everyday to keep going, they sell fire wood for a living, and live a hand to mouth sort of existence, therefore it is important that we are there for them in times of need,” Baikgoditse said.
The overwhelmed councillor also highlighted that as a councillor, “You are expected to be available to help all the time otherwise people would not vote for you in the next elections.”
” Today I had to cut trees to create an access road for trucks carrying water to go into Matlapana village,” the exhausted Baikgodise revealed
According to the councilor, more than 5000 households in matlapana don’t have running water and therefore have to depend on public stand pipes which are around 5 kilometres apart.
To avoid crowding at these standpipes WUC has been providing water in water tanks closer to the houses for easy access.
Just last week, another councilor, Luke Motlaleselelo explained the challenges of leading communities during times such as these.
Motlaleselelo said some councilors have even resorted to hiding from people because they too were increasingly getting helpless as well.