De Hoop Dam is government’s good story to tell, says Jacob Zuma

2014-03-24 16:50

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They are yet to drink from De Hoop Dam, but those who attended its official opening in Limpopo today, cheered and screamed as President Jacob Zuma mentioned some of the villages that will benefit from the multimillion-rand water project.

For Zuma, the De Hoop Dam is part of his government’s “good story to tell”. Zuma, who said he was not campaigning, went on to list several successes of the ANC-led government in the past 20 of democracy and the five years he has been in office.

From work opportunities created, to the school nutrition programme as well as improvements in higher education, among others, Zuma emphasised the importance of reflecting on work done by government to mark the 20 years of democracy milestone.

View our 20 years of democracy special report here.

“The opening of this dam confirms the good story of our country, the story of development and progress that our country has achieved since 1994,” Zuma said.

“As we look back on the road travelled since 1994, we are proud to say that we have a good story to tell. South Africa is a much better place to live in now than it was before 1994, due to the hard work of all South Africans to build a new society.”

Zuma said the R3 billion De Hoop Dam, the 13th-largest dam in the country, was one of the key projects under the Presidential Infrastructure Coordination Commission.

Read: De Hoop, Limpopo’s great water hope

“The people of Sekhukhune [the region in Limpopo where the dam is situated] were excluded from access to basic needs like water under apartheid regimes, like many rural communities. Coupled with the fact that the area itself is naturally water stressed, government identified the need for serious infrastructure investment in this region,” he said.

He said the dam would fulfil two purposes – and would act as a catalyst for social and economic development.

“The first [purpose] is to supply water to the towns, industries and poorly serviced rural communities in Sekhukhune, Waterberg, and Capricorn districts of the Limpopo province. Secondly, the dam will supply water to the mines in order to help unlock vast mineral deposits, mainly in the form of platinum group metals found in the region.”

Communities in the area and opposition parties in Limpopo have previously raised concerns around the planned water supply from De Hoop, saying more water was intended for mines and not water-starved communities.

Meanwhile, there was no clarity on when communities will start drinking from De Hoop.

Work on bulk water pipes was still being done in the areas to be supplied. The plan is to supply bulk-water municipalities that will be responsible for purifying and supplying communities.

Zuma did, in his speech today, acknowledge the plight of communities without water.

“When we talk about this area being water stressed, we are talking about the plight of many people such as the unacceptable conditions of the people of Ga-Mashabela near Jane Furse who struggle to access clean drinking water. People still have to walk through thick and thorny bushes to reach the wells of Ntsoaneng, Ga-Kgari Mountains, in order to access fresh water,” he said.

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