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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 February, 2004, 19:00 GMT
South Africa diary: Day Three
BBC Africa correspondent Barnaby Phillips spends a week testing the mood in South Africa a decade after the end of apartheid and ahead of elections. His third stop is Motherwell, a proud and sport-loving township which is struggling with unemployment and HIV/Aids.


A horribly early start and a dawn flight along the Cape coast to Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape.

There we pick up a hired car and ask for directions to Motherwell, a huge township on the edge of the city.

One of the smartly attired women working for the car hire company has not heard of Motherwell.

Her colleague has heard of it but is faintly horrified at the idea of us going there.

Anyway, when we eventually reach Motherwell, we meet plenty of interesting and friendly people.

Elvis Boltina and Qondakele Sompondo are community leaders and enthusiastic members of the local rugby club.

Of course football is the No 1 sport for most black South Africans but in this part of the country there are significant numbers of black people playing rugby and cricket.

Elvis says the national rugby team - the Springboks - would have performed much better at the recent world cup if the authorities had made more efforts to encourage talented young black players.

Proud record

Fikile Desi is an ANC councillor, who was first elected in 1994.

He gives me a very upbeat assessment of life in Motherwell.

SOUTH AFRICAN TOUR
Barnaby Phillips will be reporting from the above locations throughout the week

He is especially proud of the ANC's record in building decent houses for thousands of people.

"Now, when one thinks of Motherwell, one thinks of houses," he boasts.

And he says violent crime has become much less common thanks to improved policing after the end of apartheid.

"Before, a white man like yourself would have been afraid to move beyond the police station but now you can just go anywhere."

Mr Desi is extremely confident that the ANC will easily win the upcoming elections in the Eastern Cape.

"The other parties keep on trying but we always win," he says.

But it is also obvious that there are still many problems in Motherwell.

Unemployment is one serious blight on people's lives. And HIV/Aids is another one.

"I can take you to many shacks where people are lying bed-ridden" says Mr Desi.

"HIV is now turning into full-blown Aids."

Unfortunately we have to rush to catch a flight on to Durban, in KwaZulu Natal.

So its back to Port Elizabeth, and the airport.

Claim to fame

You may not have heard of Port Elizabeth; it is an industrial city, with none of the obvious charm of Cape Town.

But it could be about to become much more famous.

Because the city authorities are planning to build an enormous statue at the entrance to the harbour, depicting Nelson Mandela with a young girl by his side.

The city authorities hope the statue will put Port Elizabeth on the map.

Mr Mandela, as modest as ever, has offered no comment.




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