Tatane project: Zululand

2011-05-21 19:28

There is no municipality that captures the political flux and developmental challenges of rural KwaZulu-Natal better than the Zululand district municipality.

Run since 1996 by the IFP, the district will from tomorrow, in all likelihood, be run by a coalition of the NFP and ANC, with the IFP taking on an opposition role as the municipality is now hung as a result of Wednesday’s local government poll.

Of the five towns in the district – Ulundi, Nongoma, eDumbe, uPhongolo and AbaQulusi (Vryheid) – the NFP controls Nongoma and eDumbe, the IFP Ulundi and the ANC uPhongolo, with no party holding the outright majority in the municipality to govern it alone.

On a political level, the challenges are massive. From an almost one-party district, Zululand has changed overnight, and the response of the IFP to this loss of dominance and the realities of life in the opposition benches will be central to how the municipality delivers to its residents.

It will also be a critical test of how the ­newly born NFP takes to governance, albeit through a coalition, and how the ANC consolidates its foothold in the former no-go area.

The district, with a R623?million budget, is home to 800 small villages and about one?million people.

Water is the most pressing issue – the district is arid and has a water supply backlog of more than 2.4?billion litres – with the sewerage backlog around half of that.

At present about 80% of the district’s budget goes to water supply, which is at best erratic. On election day, residents were seen queuing at delivery points to wait for water trucked in by the municipality.

Residents say the other key developmental issues are electricity supply and roads, and programmes to boost local economic development in the face of widespread unemployment in the area.

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