The Vhembe district municipality in Limpopo, which borders South Africa and Zimbabwe through the Beitbridge border post, is working round the clock to implement remedial actions of the Auditor General (AG) Tsakane Maluleke on poor water provision in Venda.
The region has in the past received backlash from thirsty communities in Malamulele, Makhado, Musina and Thohoyandou after several water infrastructure projects stalled. The residents accused the municipalities of failing to to live up to its promises to provide water on their doorstep – a promise made by the ANC during elections.
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In January, a 25-year-old woman from Tshitomboni village, outside Thohoyandou, was mauled by crocodiles while doing laundry at Nandoni Dam. Only the head of the woman was discovered by divers after a day-long of search in the crocodile-infested dam.
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The woman was forced to use water from the dam because the municipality had allegedly failed to provide the village with water, despite living adjacent to the dam.
In May, the town of Musina came to an abrupt halt when angry residents blocked the busy N1 road between Makhado and Beitbridge in a push to get the municipality provide them with water. Schools were closed, shops and the local municipality were also closed and pelted with stones.
Water and Sanitation minister, Senzo Mchunu had to go to the region to calm the situation.
Project delays blamed on protests, lockdowns
In June this year, the AG accused the municipality of acting on a snail pace to complete some of its major infrastructure.
Maluleke expressed concern over delays in projects such as upgrading the Vondo water treatment works and constructing the Phiphidi reservoir.
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“Both the projects were planned to have been completed by July 2020 and the delays have denied citizens their basic right to a fresh water supply,” said Maluleke.
The effect of these delays, she said, was a delayed services to citizens, a continued shortage of infrastructure assets and the crumbling of existing infrastructure.
In response, the municipality cited issues surrounding community uprisings and protests’ the lockdowns brought about by Covid; severe rainfall which posed a risk of working with slippery scaffoldings; and delays in getting approval to access private land; as some of the major reasons for failing to complete the project in time.
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“All the above mentioned issues have now been resolved and the project is anticipated to be completed by end of September 2022,” the municipality said in a statement this week.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said recently that South Africa has done its utmost to rescue itself out of a waterless hole. He said in an effort to ensure future water security, the country would need at least R126 billion for water infrastructure.