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‘I want to put my head on the block’ – Senzo Mchunu promises angry eThekwini residents water by April

‘I want to put my head on the block’ – Senzo Mchunu promises angry eThekwini residents water by April
Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu. (Photo: Gallo Images / OJ Koloti)

Some parts of KwaXimba in eThekwini haven’t had water for seven years. Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu addressed the community last week and promised they would have tap water by April – but that seems unlikely.

‘I want to put my head on the block that in April water will be restored in the area,” Senzo Mchunu, Minister of Water and Sanitation, told the community of KwaXimba after arriving two hours late.

KwaXimba residents have protested over water shortages. Taps have been dry for more than seven years in some areas.

senzo mchunu water

Minister Senzo Mchunu addresses the community of KwaXimba on 22 February. (Photo: Joseph Bracken)

“[I would] like to invite everyone in the area to come and witness this on that day,” Mchunu told those assembled in the Inkosi Masinga Sports Centre last week.

However, according to a media statement released the next day by the Department of Water and Sanitation, none of the projects to alleviate the water crisis in KwaXimba are on schedule for completion in April. 

An urgently commissioned wastewater treatment facility in the Mvini area is only expected to be operational by mid-May.

The long-term solution is the construction of the Upper Mkhomazi scheme, which will add 400 megalitres per day to the western aqueduct, but this is only expected to be completed by 2030.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Stemming the tide — Senzo Mchunu battles ongoing water crisis while confronting his party

Asked whether water would be restored in April as promised by the minister, his spokesperson, Kamokgelo Mokgotsi, said, “The city is the water services authority. As a department, we are assisting them to fast-track their projects.”

The municipality referred our queries to the national department.

According to the media statement, a power outage at Midmar Dam affected areas supplied by the western aqueduct, including Hammarsdale, Georgedale, Kloof, Gillitts, Tshelimnyama, Dassenhoek, Inanda and Umzinyathi. 

Water from the western aqueduct was restored on 19 February, but inadequate supply persists.

eThekwini municipality officials were present at the meeting with the minister hosted by Inkosi Mlaba of KwaXimba.

Resident Hlengiwe Mkhize said that municipal officials usually come to address the community only after a protest. Then they might get water for a week before taps run dry again.

Nqobizizwe Ngubane, secretary to the Inkosi, said they called the minister because they were getting no help from the eThekwini municipality.

Mkhize said that where she lives they last had tap water seven years ago. Water trucks don’t reach her area and people have to fetch water from neighbouring areas.

Mlungisi Ngcobo, who has lived in Ward 1 for more than 20 years, said water truck deliveries are infrequent and he has resorted to fetching water from a river which is “very dirty”. DM

First published by GroundUp.

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