A top executive at KwaZulu-Natal's biggest water supplier has slammed reports stating that former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni would head the amalgamation of the Umgeni and Mhlathuze water boards.
Umgeni Water acting chief executive Thami Hlongwa stated that Myeni would have no part in the union of the massive water boards.
"I hope I just have to say this for the last time. Dudu Myeni has nothing to do with Umgeni Water and nothing to do with the amalgamation with Mhlathuze Water Board."
Hlongwa made the statement during a question-and-answer session at the stakeholder engagement of the Lower Thukela Bulk Water Supply Scheme in Mandeni, north of Durban, on Wednesday.
The project – in its first phase estimated at R1.6bn – will supply large parts of the iLembe District Municipality that have in recent years been plagued with water supply difficulties.
Hlongwa said that Myeni was gazetted as interim chair during early phase "discussions" on the merger.
"Our first discussion was whether we amalgamate both water boards. We wanted to put them together and say no big brother is eating the other."
By Wednesday the Mhlathuze Water Board website still had a congratulations message on Myeni's appointment as "interim chairperson of the amalgamated provincial water board".
It read: "We are humbled that this gigantic responsibility [has] been bestowed on you and we are looking forward to working under your leadership as we fulfil the constitutional imperative of ensuring that everyone enjoys access to safe drinking water."
Hlongwa said further discussions led to the decision to dissolve Mhlathuze.
"We then decided after protracted discussions [that] Mhlathuze should be disestablished and will have all its assets, liabilities and staff in full transferred to Umgeni Water."
This "implied Umgeni Water governance structures shall prevail", Hlongwa said.
"Therefore, Myeni has no role in this whatsoever. Hopefully it is clear. There is no Dudu Myeni that will play any role."
According to Hlongwa, Umgeni Water was finalising a tender for due diligence on Mhlathuze.
"Over the last two months, we held investor road shows getting views of investors. They are supportive of the merger. We have shown them how financially viable Mhlathuze is and the potential it holds."
Hlongwa said there were positive aspects that would come out of the merger
"We do not foresee any loss of jobs but more creation. Once the merger takes place Mhlathuze will act as an office that will then manage the northern coast side of things. This is not discounting the role played by due diligence. It (due diligence) will clarify how do we do this."