R30 million pumped into a great, big dirty hole
After 13 years and numerous cash injections, the Mdantsane swimming pool is still not open
Millions more likely to be spent before facility can be functional
At least R30m has been pumped into supposedly revamping a swimming pool in Buffalo City Metro but it remains closed, with little to show where the millions have gone.
More money, possibly running into more millions, is to be ploughed into the neverending revamp of the Mdantsane Zone 2 swimming pool as yet another tender is at the bid evaluation stage.
While the pool is Olympic sized, the R3.9m South Africans paid for former president Jacob Zuma’s “fire pool” at his Nkandla homestead is small change compared to the R30m poured into Mdantsane’s pool.
The pool has been in a shambles for years as it was last operational before Ciskei’s former leader Lennox Sebe was overthrown in the early 1990s.
The on-and-off plans to redevelop the dilapidated pool have been on the cards since 2007, but it was left to fall into ruin, reduced to a dumpsite and crime haven.
Over the years, the municipality repeatedly boasted that the pool would finally be reopened, with millions allocated to the project. Every single reopening deadline was missed with little explanation of how the money had been spent — including a R6m grant funding from the EU that mysteriously vanished in 2012.
City spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya would not answer a list of detailed questions on the pool’s expenditure (see side bar).
But Daily Dispatch records show the oncepopular recreational facility has, at least since 2012, been a money guzzler, with opposition parties raising questions on the expenditure.
The metro allocated the R30m as follows: ● In 2012, the EU gave the metro R6m to revamp the pool but city bosses could not account for how the money was spent;
● In 2013, then mayor Zukiswa Ncitha announced a R5m investment to redevelop the pool and upgrade Water World at Leaches Bay. She did not specify how much would be spent on each project.
● In 2016, the municipality allocated almost R3m to the revamp of the pool over three years. R150,000 was set aside for the erection of a fence as part of phase one.
Phase two was supposed to be the actual revamp work at a cost of R1.2m, while a caretaker’s house would cost taxpayers more than R1.5m;
● In April 2018, mayor Xola Pakati attended a sod-turning ceremony and announced a R12m investment, promising the pool would finally be fully functional again.
How the R12m would be spent was strikingly similar to the 2016 allocation. R3m would be used for the construction of the ticket office, guard house and change rooms, as part of phase one.
Phase two was supposed to see two kiddies’ pools built, floodlights replaced with steel floodlights, construction of pumphouses and installation of pumps and filters. This was supposed to be done by June 2019. The construction of grandstands, water polo and diving pools was supposed to be done as part of phase three, with the pool reopened in June 2020;
● In October 2018, Pakati told the Dispatch that the R1m they had allocated to the pool had run out before work could be completed. This was after he had been confronted by angry residents at a mayoral imbizo, who wanted to know why work had once again stopped on the pool;
● In 2019, R10m was allocated for the refurbishment, with the city in March 2020 saying only R1.7m was left. This was despite the only visible development being the installation of concrete slab fencing.
When the Dispatch visited the pool this week, signs of shoddy workmanship were visible, judging by the concrete slab fencing
— which in some parts had fallen down. There was no ticket office, guard house or change rooms, only a small prefab office for the construction company on site.
But excavation work (the digging of trenches, installing water pipes and water connections) was under way, which is the first step before the two kiddies’ pools can be built.
No work has been done on the empty pool, which has cracked tiles.
The city previously said the work that had been done on the pool included removing old structures, installing fencing and earthworks.
Mdantsane activist Thabang Maseko, who has been campaigning for the reopening of the pool, said it was “long overdue” that the facility was operational again.
“We had hoped by now we would be taking our children to learn how to swim there, so we are really disappointed that the pool is yet to be reopened.
“If there is anything untoward in relation to the expenditure, we are hopeful that this sixth administration will look into it and ensure that the pool is reopened,” he said.
More money, possibly running into more millions, will be ploughed into the never-ending revamping of the Mdantsane Zone 2 swimming pool as yet another tender is at the bid evaluation stage