'A true leader eats last' - ratepayers' association slams KZN premier over water tanker debacle

People fill buckets with water from a burst pipe that was damaged by the floods in Durban.
People fill buckets with water from a burst pipe that was damaged by the floods in Durban.
PHOTO: Rosetta Msimango
  • The ratepayers' association in La Mercy accused KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala of having a water tanker delivered to his home which residents were not allowed to access.
  • Zikalala has denied the allegations, saying the tanker had provided water to residents before delivering to his home. 
  • The incident was said to have taken place on Friday. 

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has come under fire after a water tanker allegedly delivered its entire load of water to his La Mercy home and not to other residents amid water shortages caused by the floods. 

A video of a water tanker parked outside Zikalala's north coast home went viral on social media over the weekend. In the video, a man can be heard saying the water was being delivered to Zikalala's home while they were unable to get a tanker to provide water for other residents.

The incident was said to have taken place on Friday. 

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During a media briefing on Monday at the Department of Public Works, Zikalala vehemently denied that the tanker had only delivered water to his home. 

"I called the metro to distribute water. They gave people all over La Mercy water. Then they gave water to my house. This was after my wife had gone to collect water (on her head). I want to explain this because these things are meant to distract us, but what is not reported is what the family, led by my wife, is doing in cooking and providing food to the people staying in that hall and that clip has not surfaced. The man is only showing this clip where we called the tanker to provide water and after water was provided to the whole community, he poured water at my home," said Zikalala.

In a statement, his office further alleged that the video had been digitally manipulated and carefully choreographed to create a false narrative.

"For this person to present the video in a way that implies that only my family got the water is blatant propaganda, uncalled for, mischievous and malicious. It is disingenuous and certainly something that must be viewed with the contempt that it deserves. It is intended to distract and continue the campaign of creating a trust deficit between us as leaders and the people. The intended purpose is to peddle falsehoods," he said. 

Following Zikalala's statement, the La Mercy Civic and Ratepayers' Association (LMRCA) released a scathing media statement on Monday evening, saying, "A true leader eats last!" and denied that residents were allowed access to the water tanker.

"In full view of all those present, the water tanker proceeded to the home of the premier, after which the driver offloaded the entire tanker for the exclusive use of the premier's home only. When queried, the driver had advised that the water tanker was destined for Tongaat, but that it was rerouted to the premier's home. This took place while there were people lining up at the mosque for water. The mosque currently offers a borehole facility to its residents in order to assist with water," said the LMRCA

"The incident was witnessed by several members of LMRCA who were on-site, as well as several residents, security at the mosque and all those queuing at the mosque for water. The mosque and the premier's home are approximately five metres away from each [other] and at a cul-de-sac. It was hard to miss the water tanker, and residents were congregating to fill up their buckets." 

Damage control 

On Monday morning, Zikalala's wife Nellie visited the community hall to hand out food parcels, accompanied by the Department of Social Development, with photographers in tow. 

The LMRCA said:

We find this kind of conduct a disgrace and is nothing short of being tone-deaf to a community and a province that is desperate for assistance. We also do not believe that the hand that feeds should be posing for a photograph. It is unacceptable and was merely nothing more than a publicity stunt from the premier's office to do damage control.
 As of Monday night, the LMRCA said tankers had not returned to provide them with water.

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