Ugu Mayor Mondli Chiliza under fire for his role in water crisis

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By Johan Pretorius

Although the Ugu water crisis caused by an illegal SAMWU strike seems to be nearly over, there is still a lot of uncertainty about whether the agreement between the workers and the KZN province will hold. At the writing of this report there had been no news yet on whether it had been signed after legal advice obtained by the union.  Ugu management seems confident, though, that the matter will be sorted out between the unions and the province.

Some regions still don’t have water, and although the community rallied magnificently when the chips were down, and put in a magnificent effort in helping to alleviate the effects of the water shortage, eHowzit is aware of an underlying, deep discontent in many sections of the Ugu community.  Discussions with leading figures of all political parrties in our society, have revealed that the strike has had severe negative effects on the business sector, which suffered heavy losses running into millions of rands.  Communities from all over the district are feeling the effects of the strike, and people are extremely angry that a basic human right has been used as a bargaining chip by both Ugu workers and Ugu management.

Clinics, hospitals, and the tourism and hospitality industry have also suffered tremendously. Thousands of workers from the local industries were told to stay home as factories ground to a halt.  As the Ugu senior management and in particular Municipal Manager DD Naidoo battled to keep the wheels turning, it came to light that communities were questioning the whereabouts of the Ugu District  Mayor Mondli Chiliza, and his role in solving the crisis.  Questions were asked about this at media briefings, but MM DD Naidoo, who led the briefings, explained that Mayor Chiliza had been playing a major role in the negotiations.  He also conveyed messages of thanks from the mayor to the community for its magnificent response to the crisis.

Nevertheless, leading figures have told eHowzit that he had failed to face the communities directly, and this has raised the ire of locals.  Apparently ANC councillors whose communities faced serious water challenges are under pressure from their constituencies to ask the mayor to step down and ‘get a more capable person to get the municipality more stable again’.  eHowzit has reliably learnt that some councillors echoed the sentiments of community members, and they are now wanting to put pressure on the political leadership to have the mayor removed.  An angry resident from Oshabeni on Tuesday asked:  ‘Why isn’t the Ugu mayor addressing our imbizo’s?’.  Another said: ‘We need answers from this mayor’ as clinics and schools in the affected areas ran dry.  Well-placed sources say a significant number of councillors no longer have faith and confidence in the ability of the mayor to lead.  An angry councillor whose ward had had no water for more than 10 days, with little or no relief from emergency tankers, told eHowzit ‘this man is an embarrassment to the municipality and the ANC as a whole’.

When asked for comment, a senior ANC official told eHowzit to contact the Provincial Task team, as this was a municipal matter which needed attention from the task team.

eHowzit informed Mayor Chiliza about the content of this report, and he undertook to provide us with a response, which we will post in full as soon as we receive it.

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