Tatane Project: Service delivery stagnates in KZN

2015-04-05 15:00

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Khanyisile Buthelezi, Zanele Nxumalo and Evelyn Sibiya are gathered around a murky, smelly borehole in the scorching Zululand sun, trying to draw water before the children return from school and the day’s supply to Canaan village outside Nongoma is gone.

They’re angry, and become ever more worked up as the heat builds and the water level sinks.

2012: A woman collects water from the Umfolozi River. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya

“This is the only water we have here,” says Sibiya (60), who has lived in Canaan – one of scores of villages scattered around the Zululand District Municipality (ZDM) – all her life.

“When the children come from school, the water gets finished quickly. Then we have to wait till the next morning for it to fill up. It’s easier when it rains, but it hasn’t rained for some time now,” adds Sibiya.

Canaan has had communal standpipes, with each tap servicing four households, since 2007, but the pipes haven’t carried water for more than a year.

“There’s nothing in the taps. You can go for a whole year without there being any water in them. There’s been no tanker. This is the only water we have,” she says.

Sibiya, whose pension supports seven people, believes that the pre-election promises made by the ANC, Inkatha Freedom Party and National Freedom Party (NFP) campaigning in Nongoma’s Ward 4 ahead of last year’s national election and the 2011 local government polls have come to nothing.

Then: Community of Canan is forced to drink dirty water from a nearby pond in Canan in Nongoma. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya

The ward was won by the NFP, which rules the ZDM, which includes the municipalities of Nongoma, Ulundi, Abaqulusi (Vryheid), eDumbe (Paulpietersburg) and Phongola, in coalition with the ANC.

“I won’t lie to you. They came here and promised us jobs, houses, water, proper roads and toilets if we voted for them. Then they robbed us. They’ve done nothing for us since we voted – except build a hall. Nothing. What did we vote for? You tell me.”

Nxumalo (32), who was also born in Canaan, is even more forthright. “They made us promises before the election. We were promised water. We were promised they would upgrade the area. That there would be jobs. I voted. That was it. We’ve heard nothing.”

Nxumalo and Sibiya aren’t keen to vote in 2016.

“What is there to vote for? What? We voted for s**t. For s**t. I’m not going to vote again,” says Nxumalo.

For Mazwi Mpanza, the owner of the Phola Park car wash at eSigangeni outside Nongoma, the past 10 years have brought little change in terms of service provision.

Now: Villagers of Canaan in Nongoma still use a borehole because there is no water supply in their communal standpipes. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya

Mpanza (38) started his roadside business because he was tired of being unemployed. He built a shelter – from poles and what he could scrounge – under which to wash cars. He uses water and electricity from his family home and has installed a water tank for dry times. Mpanza charges R30 for a basic wash and shine and R50 for the full house. On a good weekday, he washes three cars. When City Press visited eSigangeni at around lunchtime, he had washed one car.

“I’m struggling, but I’m doing something. The municipality gives us water and electricity. What I need from them is the boost to do more here. I want to build a proper shop, make a place for a butchery, but I need that push,” says Mpanza.

Mpanza, who employs three youngsters to help him on weekends, says that, while there were some promises of boosting local development ahead of the elections, there has been no concrete action.

At Silver, a village on the banks of the Umfolozi River outside Ulundi, Mpume Kubheka (30) is digging in an island in the middle of the river for clean water to take home. Across the river, a group of young men are bathing. Upstream are clusters of animals drinking and several families are drawing water.

“I’ve never had running water in my life,” says Kubheka, a tourism intern at the Nongoma municipality. “I walk every day for 5km with a 20-litre bucket.”

Kubheka says her children, aged five and 15 months, are often sick from the water.

“This water makes them sick. It makes me sick too. We boil it and dig it from the middle of the river where it is cleaner, but they still get sick,” she says.

Kubheka says that she is still willing to vote, despite her disappointment over the lack of delivery at Silver.

“They have promised us a lot, but do very little. The promises are mostly empty. We were promised water, proper roads, RDP houses. I’ve voted in every election since I was 18, but this is what we have for it,” she says.

Mayor Mpiyakhe Hlatshwayo, who took over from NFP leader Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi when she was appointed to President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet, told City Press the water works at Nongoma were being upgraded and supply would be extended to Canaan during 2016 or 2017.

Silver would get water later.

Hlatshwayo said the municipality had provided 11?900 households (about 60?700 people) with a new water supply since 2013, and another 20?730 households (abut 105?700 people) with toilets.

The municipality depended on grants for funds to build water and sewerage infrastructure, which delayed the process. He said the R690?million received since 2013 had all been used and accounted for. An additional 10 water projects would provide water to the entire municipality in the long term.

“It is very difficult for the public who are without water supply or sanitation to accept the fact that their service can only be delivered in 2024 due to lack of funds?…?in line with the current funding trends from national government,” Hlatshwayo said.

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