A war of words has erupted between opposition parties and the ANC at the Maluti-A-Phofung Municipality in Qwaqwa, in the eastern Free State, ahead of the visit of top government officials.
Deputy President, David Mabuza, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and Human Settlement and Water and Sanitation Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, are envisaged to conduct an oversight with the aim of assisting the ailing municipality’s bid to improve service delivery.
Water shortages and electricity blackouts have become part of the daily lives of residents of Maluti-a-Phofung. The municipality incorporates Kestel, Harrismith and Qwaqwa. It owes Eskom millions of rand. Poor infrastructure is also a major concern.
Residents are hopeful that the visit by the deputy president and ministers will resolve their challenges.
“Our challenges here in Qwaqwa is that there is always lack of water. There is no electricity. Most of the time in the morning or at night there is no electricity and the water is always it is dirty,” says one resident.
“We are still struggling electricity sometimes and we have shortage of water. They are not telling us why we have shortage of water,” adds another one.
Opposition parties have accused the municipality of failing to provide basic services to the people.
Civic movement MAP 16 Convener, Paratlane Motloung, says the people of Maluti-A-Phofung are still suffering under the ANC government.
“Not all the R220 million was spent on resolving the issues. We are still sitting with the very same issues despite all the rains; despite the work that we have been told it’s been done. I woke up at home without running water and it’s two weeks now,” Motloung says.
EFF Secretary in the Thabo Mafutsanayane District, Mohau Molwele, says the visit by government officials is nothing, but electioneering by the ANC ahead of local government elections later this year.
“We are approaching local government elections. So, we dim and assume that it is going to be another strategy to try and persuade the people of Maluti-A-Phofung to vote the ANC, but over all and above despite two interventions from this municipality from national and provincial government to try and stabilise the municipality. The situation is worse, the level of corruption is rife. As EFF, we don’t welcome the visit of the deputy president. We dim (it) as a futile exercise, as a political expediency,” says Molwele.
“In Maluti a Phofung nothing has change when it comes to water and electricity. Hospitals, Phuthaditjhaba and Bloemgumbusch … they do get water now and then not regularly while other places haven’t received even a drop in Qwaqwa. So, things have been the same. Since the minister and others came and made promises things are still the same,” says DA Ward Chairperson in Maluti-A-Phofung Municipality, Mathapelo Mokoena.
Dikwankwetla Party of South Africa leader, Moeketsi Lebesa, says they want answers about the disappearance of millions of rand of the water project.
“We are still going days without water. When there is water, it is dirty. We are being lied to. We are told that it is because of timidity level of the water. So, we are expecting the president to tell us how long should we live without water and electricity and he must tell us what happened to R220 million that was injected into Qwaqwa water crisis.”
The ANC says it’s not concerned about opposition parties’ accusations.
“The visit of the deputy president has nothing to do with process of elections. It is the sole responsibility of the ANC to be on the side of the people. Other political parties, as opposition, they will raise their views, but as the ANC, we are not concerned about the views of the opposition. We are concerned about the living conditions of our people. That is where our concern is,” says ANC Regional Task Team convener in the Thabo Mofutsanyana District, Tumelo Thebe.
The municipality was one of Free State municipalities placed under administration. Last year, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC, Thembeni Nxangisa, lifted the administration much to the dismay of opposition parties.