Sekhukhune residents doubtful water woes will be addressed

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Ahead of President Cryil Ramaphosa’s presidential Imbizo in Limpopo’s Sekhukhune region, residents say they remain doubtful that their water woes will be addressed.

Despite being home to large dams such as De hoop and Flag Boshielo, this largely rural region has always faced water problems.

In Monsterlus, golden hour creates the illusion that all is good, but failure abounds on top of this mountain. The water reservoir is incomplete and beginning to show signs of decay.

According to residents in this area, the structure cost over R30 million, but not even a single pipe is connected.

Veli Mahlangu, a community leader says, “They said we are going to bring water to ward 19 and indeed a contractor came in 2011 and they came and started laying pipes but didn’t finish. Those guys took 13 million (rand) then a second contractor came. They said to complete the work however they came and got paid eight million. A third contractor came who was eight million but even to this day there is no water.”

Failed water projects

Over the years, many water projects have been commissioned in Sekhukhune to ease residents’ water challenges however, few have seen water reaching the taps of homes.

The most recent one is the R2-billion Loskop bulk water project.

While millions have already been spent, pipes can still be seen on the side of the road.

Beneficiaries not so confident that the project will quench their thirst.

ANC weighs in

The African National Congress (ANC) in the region says that not all is lost and that there is a ray of light at the end of the tunnel, as regional secretary, Mathope Tala explains.

“There seems to be progress. I was given a report that they are drilling boreholes because we directed the municipality to drill boreholes as a temporary relief to this problem of water. For example this side of Makhufuthamaga, they have been busy this week and last week and I hope they can keep us this pace going forward.

‘Another campaign strategy’

The announcement of the President’s imbizo has seen the area turning into a hive of activity. From local, provincial and national authorities – all are cross crossing the region this week.

Opposition party in the region, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is sceptical of the visit by President Cyril Ramaphosa, as regional chairperson Ali Maloba explains.

“It’s another campaign strategy for the ANC. You’ll remember that at some point, Sekhukhune was declared a nodal area by the ANC. Until today, we don’t have water. It’s still dry and now we don’t expect anything…”

Another opposition party says they hope the presidential visit will unlock service delivery.

Seun Mogotji of the Bolsheviks Party of South Africa says, “We hope that the visit will unlock service delivery in our region because we were held ransom by politicians who did not want us to move anywhere. Since we have 24 months changing mayors, we hope while the president is coming here, the issue of factions will finish because its delaying service delivery.”

Stability in leadership

With the Sekhukhune district having changed mayors three times in less than 24 months, it is expected that stabilising leadership in the area will also be an area of interest for the President.

Three names were submitted to the provincial executive committee last month after the regional announced that the current mayor was merely an interim mayor.

The previous mayor, Julian Mathebe, was forced to step aside because of pending VBS fraud related charges.