Del­uge of po­lit­i­cal bick­er­ing but lit­tle wa­ter for KZN area

Sunday Times - - News | Rural Life - By BON­GANI MTHETHWA

● Nonku­l­uleko Ng­cobo con­sid­ers her­self lucky.

The bore­hole she gets wa­ter from is a stone’s throw from her home in the ru­ral vil­lage of KwaDab­hasi in north­ern KwaZulu-Natal.

But more than 5 000 peo­ple in her vil­lage, out­side Non­goma, are not so lucky. Many vil­lagers, in­clud­ing chil­dren at the Nkawu Sec­ondary School, have to walk about 1km to col­lect wa­ter from the bore­hole.

KwaDab­hasi is at the cen­tre of a wa­ter cri­sis that turned po­lit­i­cal this week, with for­mer wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion min­is­ter Nomvula Mokonyane cen­tral to the com­plaint.

Zu­l­u­land district mu­nic­i­pal­ity mayor Thu­la­sizwe Buthelezi ac­cused the Depart­ment of Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion, via Mh­lathuze Wa­ter, of squan­der­ing R185mil­lion in­tended to sup­ply much-needed wa­ter to KwaDab­hasi and other ar­eas in the district.

The mayor of the IFP-led coun­cil said there was “no ev­i­dence” to show that Mh­lathuze Wa­ter had rolled out any of the in­fra­struc­ture, de­spite the money be­ing al­lo­cated in the 2015-16 fi­nan­cial year.

“The mu­nic­i­pal­ity is of the view that re­sources from the na­tional fiscus meant for poor com­mu­ni­ties have been di­verted else­where,” he said in a let­ter to Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion Min­is­ter Gugile Nk­winti.

Sim­i­lar let­ters were sent to Fi­nance Min­is­ter Nh­lanhla Nene and pub­lic pro­tec­tor Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane.

Mh­lathuze Wa­ter has de­nied any wrong­do­ing. While the fight goes on way above the vil­lagers’ heads, they con­tinue to strug­gle for ac­cess to wa­ter.

Nkawu prin­ci­pal Vusi Ng­cobo said when rain was scarce pupils had to col­lect wa­ter from the bore­hole.

Un­em­ployed mother of four Phindile Ntombela said when one bore­hole did not have wa­ter, they had to walk far to another one.

The sit­u­a­tion comes in spite of the fact that Mh­lathuze Wa­ter was al­lo­cated R185-mil­lion by the Depart­ment of Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion to pro­vide wa­ter for the AbaQu­lusi and Non­goma lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. Buthelezi blamed the ANC and Mokonyane.

“This was a po­lit­i­cal ploy by the ANC led by Nomvula Mokonyane to win those wards ahead of the lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tion,” he said.

Mh­lathuze Wa­ter was ap­pointed by the Depart­ment of Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion to com­plete wa­ter sup­ply projects in AbaQu­lusi and Non­goma mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties dur­ing the 2015-16 fi­nan­cial year. These projects were un­der­taken as part of min­is­te­rial di­rec­tives is­sued to Mh­lathuze to ad­dress wa­ter sup­ply chal­lenges in the Zu­l­u­land district mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

The R185-mil­lion was made avail­able as part of an emer­gency in­ter­ven­tion al­lo­ca­tion, but this was ringfenced and later ad­justed to R140-mil­lion to cover in­ter­ven­tions for 2017-18 and 2018-19.

The amount was to cater for bore­hole in­stal­la­tions in five wards in Non­goma and to sup­ply potable wa­ter to ru­ral set­tle­ments in four wards in Vry­heid through lo­cal springs.

The ten­der for the AbaQu­lusi wa­ter project was awarded to Durban-based Afriscan Con­struc­tion, pre­vi­ously linked to Sibu­siso Ncube, hus­band of KwaZulu-Natal co-op­er­a­tive gov­er­nance and tra­di­tional af­fairs MEC No­musa Dube-Ncube.

Afriscan was also one of the com­pa­nies that was awarded a main con­tract, worth millions of rands, four years ago for bulk wa­ter sup­ply for the Umkhanyakude district mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

The con­trac­tors for the Non­goma wa­ter sup­ply project are MIS Con­struc­tion and Makhe­leni Con­struc­tion.

Doc­u­ments seen by the Sun­day Times in­di­cate that the ini­tial con­trac­tor ter­mi­nated its con­tract due to non­pay­ment as the Depart­ment of Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion had de­layed re­leas­ing the funds. But Mh­lathuze Wa­ter was able to pay the con­trac­tor, which still opted to ter­mi­nate the con­tract. The mat­ter is cur­rently un­der ad­ju­di­ca­tion. Only 23% of the work had been com­pleted at the time of the ter­mi­na­tion.

Mh­lathuze Wa­ter spokesman Siyabonga Ma­phu­mulo said the al­le­ga­tions “would be laugh­able were they not so tragic”.

Wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion spokesman Sput­nik Ratau said it was un­fair to bring Mokonyane into the is­sue.

“That was an al­lo­ca­tion to Mh­lathuze Wa­ter and it’s a nor­mal op­er­a­tional is­sue and Mh­lathuze has given an in­di­ca­tion of what they have done.”

Pic­ture: Thuli Dlamini

Vil­lagers in KwaDab­hasi in Non­goma, north­ern KwaZulu-Natal, have to fetch wa­ter.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.