Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Zweli Mkhize, has told members of the Vuwani Task Team that they are welcome to submit their applications to the Municipal Demarcation Board to redetermine local municipal boundaries.

Some residents of Vuwani, outside Thohoyandou, have been protesting against being included in the new Collins Chabane Municipality. They want to fall under the Makhado Local Municipality.

Minister Zweli Mkhize and his deputy Andries Nel have held two days of meetings with concerned parties in the Vuwani demarcation stalemate.

Mkhize started by meeting councillors from the Collins Chabane and Vhembe district municipalities to get feedback on the level of service delivery in Vuwani. He also met traditional leaders from the Vuwani, Mashau and Masakona areas which are affected by the municipal boundaries dispute.

The minister says he has established that communities are not getting services from both the Collins Chabane and Vhembe district municipalities. There was promised last year after the visit by former President Jacob Zuma.

“All we are doing is to get the views and proposals of how the tension can be alleviated. Well the most primary fundamental issue for us is services to the people. Whatever demarcation issues, disagreements must not stand on the way of delivery of services to the people. There is huge amount of unemployment, they have got need for roads infrastructure, water, road and sanitation. Those kind of programs are very very much important in the whole of Vhembe area, Collins Chabane municipality, Vuwani area, Makhado and nearby municipalities.”

After meeting the representatives of the Pro-Makhado Task Team, he gave them an assurance that he will ensure that residents get basic services. Mkhize says residents can engage the Municipal Demarcation Board to apply for the redetermination of boundaries.

“They have raised the issue of the road to Vyeboom which has already been advertised in the past and they thought that it would have been taken forward. They have raised the issue of Vuwani offices which have not been operational, and we have to look at all those issues. They have raised the issue that they still would like to make submission to the demarcation board … and the demarcation board just needs to be given time as to when that can be looked at.”

Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Pro-Makhado Task Team, Nsovo Sambo, says they are confident that the minister’s intervention will lead to their re-incorporation into the Makhado Local Municipality.

“We agreed that the minister is going to engage the MDB in terms of redetermination of boundaries and in our next meeting he will then present the respond as to what is that needs to be done going forward. We also agreed certain services of the law must be looked at to enable other various institutions and departments to provide services in the areas of Vuwani.”

Mkhize has promised to return to update the community of Vuwani and surrounding villages. He also met with traditional leaders from the Collins Chabane Municipality in the Malamulele area.

The Collins Chabane Local Municipality was formed in 2016 and includes parts of Makhado and Thulamela municipalities.

Residents, who do not want to fall under Collins Chabane, want to remain in Makhado. They say they were placed in the municipality without sufficient consultation.

Two years ago, about 30 schools were set alight in the Vuwani, Masakona and Mashau areas when residents protested against the decision to include them in the Collins Chabane Municipality.