Maverick Citizen

MAKHANDA WATER CRISIS

Makana mayor confident there will be water, as National Arts Festival kicks off

Makana mayor confident there will be water, as National Arts Festival kicks off
The ANC has been accused by opposition parties of protecting Mayor of the Makana Local Municipality Yandiswa Vara against the consequences of an ongoing water crisis in that town. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)

Makana Local Municipality mayor Yandiswa Vara is certain there will be enough water for those attending the National Arts Festival starting on Friday in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown).

Yandiswa Vara, mayor of the Makana Municipality in Makhanda, said she was positive that water shortages in the town would be a thing of the past after 1 July, when the improved James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works resumed operation.

She said if all the pumps were fixed, there would be enough water to ensure a sustainable potable supply to Makhanda. Vara was speaking at the launch of the National Arts Festival.

The municipality has been hammered by a catastrophic water crisis caused by failed infrastructure and burst pipes and has been unable to provide a consistent water supply to its residents for years.

A boil-before-drinking notice remains in place in Makhanda after municipal water was found to be contaminated with E.coli earlier this year. Vara said the municipality would continue testing the water.

She said the town had asked to be exempted from load shedding – which also adversely affects water provision – for the duration of the festival, but had not yet had a reply from Eskom.

Vara said Makhanda was plagued by cable thieves.

“As soon as we fix one spot [where cables are cut], they are already busy in another spot,” she said.

Vara said she was happy that the stalls on the common would be back at this year’s festival after being stopped during the pandemic.

‘No confidence’

The Democratic Alliance has in the meantime called on the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Xolile Williams, to intervene after a motion of no confidence in Vara was blocked by the ANC at this week’s council meeting.

While the people of the Makana Municipality suffer due to a debilitating water crisis and service delivery collapse, the inept Makana mayor is being protected from being removed from power,” DA Makana caucus leader Luvuyo Sizani said.

He explained that the motion was submitted on 24 May and dealt with the mayor’s inability to deal with the water crisis and deliver services to communities.

Vara earlier this year told Parliament that they were being blamed for the water crisis even though the Amatola Water Board was responsible for implementing the Department of Water and Sanitation’s water recovery plan.

Sizani said: “The extended water crisis is crippling Makana, but the mayor has been silent on the issue and has not demonstrated any leadership. She has not communicated any message of assurance to the community or given residents any confidence that the crisis would be dealt with effectively.

“During the council meeting, the ANC refused to allow discussion and debate on the motion, voting illegally to prevent the matter from even being considered by the council. When the issue of whether the council would consider the motion was put to the vote, the ANC councillors voted against it being discussed, citing that the substance of the motion was untrue,” he said.

“This cannot be grounds for the matter not to be discussed. The DA voted in favour of it being discussed, while the Makana Citizen’s Front and the EFF abstained from voting.”

The petition supporting the motion of no confidence was signed by 2,500 Makhanda residents. DM

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