Where is our water?

2014-04-21 08:00

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For Daniel Sangweni and his neighbours in Canaan village outside Nongoma in the Zululand District Municipality, the most important issue in deciding who to vote for in the May 7 general elections is water.

For Sangweni (49), a police officer in Ulundi, which also falls under the sprawling district administration, water also determined who he voted for in the 2011 local government poll and in the 2009 general and provincial elections.

“Water is the most important thing for us here in this community,’’ said the father of 10 who has two wives. He was born in Canaan. “There is a reservoir up on top,’’ Sangweni says, pointing towards the road between Nongoma and Hlabisa. “But we have to either drink water from this pond with the animals or walk a long way to another village to get water.’’

Residents of that village, Sindinsi, are not too happy with their neighbours’ daily trek over the hill from Canaan to avail themselves of their supply. There are tensions building up over it, he says.

Then: Nokwethemba Mnyaka collects water from the Black Umfolozi River in Onyango, outside Ulundi NOW This water tank truck supplies water to rural Zululand areas. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/City Press

Now: This water tank truck supplies water to rural areas of Zululand. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/City Press

Sangweni, along with his neighbours Wanda Khumalo (31) and Bhekini Buthelezi (60), believe that their area, like much of Zululand – which has the towns of Ulundi, Nongoma, eDumbe, Pongola and Vryheid within its borders – is badly underresourced.

“We have electricity, but we need roads and water here very badly. That and proper toilets,’’ says Buthelezi, who moved to Canaan 30 years ago when she got married. “These are the things we need from the government. The politicians have promised us these at election time, and houses, but we’re still waiting.’’

“There’s problems with roads. These are not toilets,’’ he says, pointing at the so-called Zanele Magwazas, the improved long-drop toilets named after the Zululand mayor and National Freedom Party (NFP) leader, which were installed after she took office again in 2011.

Her initial term, on an Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) ticket, was cut short after she fell out with party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi. She later formed the NFP with her supporters.

Despite their problems, Buthelezi, Sangweni and Khumalo are all keen to vote for the party they voted for in 2009, although none would say which it was.

“I have voted in every election since 1994 and I will vote for as long as I am alive,” says Buthelezi, who has five children and four grandchildren. “I will vote for the same party as last time.”

Zululand’s telephone poles, bridges and billboards are plastered with messages calling on voters to back the ANC, the IFP and the NFP. For the first time, there are DA posters too.

Images of Magwaza-Msibi and Buthelezi dominate, despite the ANC’s bid to consolidate the gains it made in the area in 2009 and 2011 thanks to the homeboy factor associated with President Jacob Zuma.

Sikhumbuzo Buthelezi, a muthi seller from Ngome near Vryheid, rates water and jobs as the key issues for his community.

He’s changing his choice of party as he “won’t be fooled again”.

“I’m on the voters’ roll, but I won’t vote for the people I trusted last time. They let us down. There’s too much corruption. They had their chance. Now I’m going to vote for somebody else and see what they can do,” he says.

Nongoma teacher Gugu Dlamini still has to make up her mind. She’s happy with service delivery at her home in nearby Maphomphomo, but is dissatisfied about the speed at which the 10km of gravel road there is being tarred.

She’s also peeved about the 5am to 5pm daily power outage for half the town, which wreaks havoc with exam preparations at King Bhekuzulu High School where she teaches.

“The water situation has improved. Even where there’s no piped water the municipality provides water in tankers and fills people’s tanks. But there are still times when there’s no water. We’ve also learned to save water,’’ she says.

How Zululand voted in 2009

There were 242?719 registered voters in the Zululand District Municipality in the 2009 elections.











The NFP did not exist in 2009

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