Open letter from DA to KZN Premier Zihle Zikalala and Cogta MEC Sipho Hlomuka on Ugu water woes

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Open letter from DA to KZN Premier Zikalala and MEC Hlomuka

To begin with, congratulations on your new appointments. That said, I am sure that you are both very aware that there is still a lot of work to be done before every resident in our province is afforded access to opportunity and the chance to build a better life. This goal can only be achieved through government delivering the best services to all its citizens, including that of basics such as water and electricity.

 The purpose of my letter today is to inform you of the collapse of the delivery of basic water services in the Ugu District Municipality as a result of the breakdown in water production at the Umtamvuna water plant which is under the administration of the local council. This failure has left more than 190 000 people and 28 000 homesteads without water going for more than a month now and if it were not for the dedicated work of local Democratic Alliance councillors and NGO and community organisations, there would be a humanitarian crisis.

The result of this appalling circumstance is that many towns – from Port Edward to Izingolweni – have become virtual ghost towns, with numerous businesses closed and potentially hundreds of jobs lost. The KZN South Coast is also completely dependent upon tourism and agriculture to maintain its economy and these sectors are fast crumbling without a reliable, continuous source of water.

 This situation is a continuation of an ongoing water crisis throughout the district. While partially caused by drought factors, the primary cause of the problem lies with Ugu District Municipality and the lack of political will that exists therein. Since the beginning of this crisis, neither the Ugu Mayor, Deputy Mayor nor Speaker have addressed local residents. In addition, the district municipality is under immense financial constraints due to ongoing mismanagement and has regressed in its audit opinion to a disclaimer. The result is that the municipality has been struggling to pay contractors. This amid continuous reports of unpaid workers’ salaries.

Despite the numerous letters, petitions and pleas from South Coast communities to the former Premier and his CoGTA MEC – and the many promises they made – to date there are no results. Instead Mayor Chiliza was promoted to become a Member of the provincial Legislature for the current parliamentary term.

 Honourable Premier, during your Inauguration Speech you spoke about a renewed government commitment towards accelerated service delivery, economic growth and job creation. The Ugu District Municipality, rife with previous failures, is the prefect ground for your government to show this commitment.

The people of Ugu demand that their District Municipality be declared a local disaster area, with sufficient funds made available to fix massive water infrastructure failures. They also want the municipality placed under administration with a competent administrator at the helm. Ultimately all bulk water services should also be transferred from the Ugu District Municipality to Umgeni Water.

It is said ‘a new broom sweeps clean’ and one can only hope that new leadership in KZN will bring positive change. The communities of the lower South Coast are desperate for action. My question to you is this – will you be the Premier to finally assist us by providing better services and saving jobs?

Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL

DA Constituency Head: Ugu District Municipality

 

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