Mabolela residents hire carts, bakkies to get water as R126m for infrastructure is returned
RUSSEL MOLEFE AND MOGAU PHALA
THE landscape at Mabolela village in Sekhukhune, Limpopo, is bleak and bare, with almost no water to drink whilst the district municipality returned R126m to Treasury due to maladministration.
And to Steven Dlamini, conditions have become unbearable for his wife and three children in a two-roomed house with small windows under the scorching heat.
“It’s a struggle to get water. We had to hire those who have donkey carts or a bakkie to fetch water from the mine. We pay R50 for 200litres and R600 for a tank of 2000litres,” said Dlamini who keeps hunger away through carpentry under a tree next to his house in an area where sanitation facilities remain pit toilets.
“There was a time when government people came to inspect the area and promised to provide water, but nothing has happened since then,” he said.
The only “decent” dirt road through the area leads to another village known as Mpoteleng where the narrative continues. It is where Ntate Mohotlane had to sit patiently for his 20litre container to fill from a very slow flowing tap.
“This is the struggle that we face every day. It seems there is no ending to it,” Mohotlane said with a heavy heart.
District municipal spokesperson Willy Mosoma has confirmed that R126m of Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) meant for water infrastructure development in the region was returned to the Treasury following a recommendation by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).
He said: “It was recommended by SIU that the Treasury must withdraw R126 million of its capital funding from the municipal account, so the Treasury followed the recommendation. But on our part, it was not easy for us because that money was already committed to projects which were by then on the ground and running.
“We pleaded with Treasury, Coghsta and all the relevant departments but as they are bigger departments they took the money because they said they fear that we were going to waste it.”
He further added that the municipality will take action against employees who failed to spend the funds on basic projects: “The district mayor Stanley Ramaila has made a call for an end to unprofessional conduct and to this effect he advocates for consequence management which only means that those who fail to do their work will be fired.”
But South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) has expressed concern over the leadership of Sekhukhune district municipality on its inability to improve delivery of basic services.
The organisation’s chairperson Jackson Tjatji did not mince his words when he said the Sekhukhune region will remain a poor due to irresponsible leadership which continue to fail to improve the lives of the people.
“The municipality has disappointed its communities several times but returning money should have not been an option. Our district is facing a high rate of poverty and unemployment, it is unacceptable for the municipality to take back money to the Treasury whilst we still have incomplete projects that do not in any way benefit communities.
“People want water, electricity, roads, houses and proper sanitation and the municipality has failed to provide.” Tjatji said.
The Bakoni Platinum Mine remain a source of water for the thousands of people in the area. The mine initially let the residents to collect water just outside of its premises.
The residents were concerned that the water was “salty”, suggesting that it might be contaminated. It has since been reported that livestock in other parts of Sekhukhune were dying of mines’ contaminated water running into streams.
Sekhukhune Budget Breakdown
- Operational Budget: R882,8m in the 2016/2017, increased to R891,7m in the 2017/2018 reaching R925,4m in 2018/2019 financial year,
- Capital Budget: capital budget for 2016/2017 is R690m, increasing to R867, 8m in 2017/2018 and reaching R991,7m in 2018/2019
- Breakdown of capital budget per grant for 2016/2017
MIG R 224, 9m
RBIG R 371,3m
WISG R 60m