10 October 2018 Read: 142
The Mopani District Municipality’s (MDM) perpetual non-payment of their accounts to service providers such as Lepelle Northern Water Board is robbing residents within their various municipalities of essential services. This according to the DA Shadow Minister for Public Service and Administration, Desiree van der Walt.
Two municipalities specifically, Greater Letaba Municipality (GLM) and Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality (BPM) which fall directly under the jurisdiction of the MDM, are in a dire state of disrepair and require drastic intervention to prevent these once thriving tourism destinations from becoming two more chapters in the South African book of miserable municipal failures.
This month alone, Modjadjiskloof residents suffered through weeks of water shortages and empty reservoirs without any clear explanations from their municipal officers or councillors. Electricity cuts and overflowing manholes covering streets in rivers of human waste have become common place. Bulletin contacted the GLM spokesperson, Lovers Maenetje, to gain clarity on the issue, but received no response.
Similarly, Phalaborwa’s faucets ran dry over the weekend leaving many residents and businesses without running water during some of the highest temperatures recorded this year. The water shortages seem to be married to electrical power outages which plagued this tiny community over the long weekend and extended all the way through to our deadline on Wednesday. Residents are fed up to the point that they have now resorted to sending their complaints directly to the presidential office hotline number 17737.
One resident from Phalaborwa town, George Hepburn has embarked on a campaign to speak to the Mayor of Phalaborwa, Puli Shayi, in person today. In the build up to this meeting he requested that residents of the town send him letters of their grievances, which he then compiled into a book. His plan is to hand over this book to the mayor.
Lack of service delivery has become such an everyday problem that residents from towns all over Limpopo have established ‘municipal issues groups’ over the social media channels such as Facebook, and WhatsApp messenger. These groups exist solely to provide residents with platforms upon which they can publically report their problems and seek answers. Though these groups offer some form of solace, it very rarely has any positive input from the authorities and can certainly not be viewed as solutions to the deep rooted issues that have led, and continue to do so, to the drastic decline of the infrastructure and service delivery bodies within them.
Bulletin contacted the spokesperson of the MDM, Witness Tiva who issued a statement pertaining to the water crisis. According to Tiva’s statement, Lepelle Northern Water reduced water supply to the Phalaborwa area by 30 percent on Monday.
“As the district municipality we are determined to ensure that we continue to service the debt we are having with Lepelle Northern Water. It is important to take note that as the district municipality we are doing our best to ensure that the historic debt is being settled as soon as possible.”
Upon scrutinizing his official statement, a logical deduction can be made that the district municipality has not been meeting its financial responsibilities to its service providers. This current situation is an exact replica of the situation a year ago which prompted the community to embark on a march to the offices of the BPM Mayor where they handed over a memorandum of their grievances.
“As the district municipality we are saying that the Constitution of the republic has placed a legal obligation on us to realise people’s right to sufficient water, hence we are continuing to engage Lepelle Northern Water to find a long lasting solution. We would like to take this opportunity to apologise for the inconvenience caused by this unfortunate turn of events in the Ba-Phalaborwa municipal area. In addition, we are also giving the Ba-Phalaborwa Municiplaity support to encourage it to strengthen its revenue collections so that it can pay millions of rand owed to the district municipality,” Tiva added.
Tiva refused to divulge the actual amounts owed to Lepelle Northern Water, despite our best efforts to force transparency on the matter. We have also not been able to reach the spokesperson for Lepelle and at the time of going to print have not received a response from the National spokesperson for the Department of Water and Sanitation, Sputnik Ratau, despite his offering us the reassurance that he will be looking into the matter.