ANC admits it knew about open toilets

2011-05-12 09:44
A resident of Ramalotsi near Viljoenskroon washes clothes on top of an open toilet. (Nicolene Olckers, Beeld)

A resident of Ramalotsi near Viljoenskroon washes clothes on top of an open toilet. (Nicolene Olckers, Beeld)

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Cape Town - The ANC was caught out on Wednesday after its initial claims that it didn't know about the unenclosed toilets in the Viljoenskroon residential area Rammulotsi.

"We became aware of it in July last year,” ANC Free State secretary Sibongile Basani admitted to reporters on Wednesday. “We immediately gave the order that the municipality enclose the toilets. By the end of December last year, 200 of the toilets had already been enclosed,” he said.

Die Burger’s two sister papers, Rapport and City Press reported on July 4 and July 11 2010 respectively that there were open toilets in Rammulotsi.

This informal settlement is part of the Moqhaka municipality and under ANC control.

According to Basani, the Free State ANC leadership had not informed the national leadership about the situation because they had already given the municipality the order to enclose the toilets.

Despite Basani’s confession, Free State Premier Ace Magashule on Tuesday emphatically denied that the province knew about it.
Magashule’s spokesperson, William Bulwane, on Wednesday night insisted that Magashule didn’t know about the issue.

"We only found out about it this week," he said.

Shiceka reacts

Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sicelo Shiceka was informed about the toilet issue last year when Rapport and City Press approached him for comment. He said “acceptable norms and standards for sanitary facilities” should be developed urgently.

Shiceka, who is currently on unpaid sick leave, was not available for comment on Wednesday. His spokesperson, Mbulelo Musi, on Wednesday denied that Shiceka had known about the situation.

When Die Burger pointed out that Shiceka had commented, he backpedalled and said “the minister probably referred to the Makhaza toilets (in Khayelitsha)”.

He was once again made aware that Shiceka had indeed commented on the Free State toilets, to which he answered: “To my knowledge, the minister didn’t know about the Free State toilets.”

The ANC’s national leadership also continued to claim on Wednesday that they weren't aware of the open toilets in the Free State.

"I don’t read Rapport. I don’t read City Press. I don’t read bad newspapers,” said Floyd Shivambu, spokesperson of the ANC Youth League when he was asked about the newspaper reports last year.

'We didn't know about it'

ANC national spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said: “Do you know how many things we have to handle every day in Luthuli House? Do you have any idea? I am telling you now we didn’t know about it,” he said.

When he was asked if the ANC didn’t read the reports in City Press and Rappport, his answer was: “Do you expect us to read every newspaper in the country? Sometimes one is overseas. Where should I get the City Press when I’m overseas? Sometimes a person is ill. We are only human.

"Fact is, we didn’t know about it and we are honest about it. And we are finished with this conversation,” he said, ending the call.

The Mail & Guardian’s investigative team on Wednesday night reported that the mayor of the Moqhaka municipality was a director of the company contracted by this municipality to enclose the toilets.

The mayor, Mantebu Mokgosi, earlier this week said during a visit of ANC leaders to the open toilets, that the project was taken place in “in phases” due to a shortage of money.
Read more on:    anc  |  bloemfontein  |  open toilets  |  politics
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