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2024 ELECTIONS

Rural Limpopo residents finally get the green light for long-awaited road

Rural Limpopo residents finally get the green light for long-awaited road
Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga briefs the media after concluding her address at Ndindani in Giyani, Limpopo. (Photo: Supplied)

It was a joyous day for residents who fought for the D3810 tarred road, as their struggle finally bore fruit. However, the project faces potential derailing as local councillors are accused of irregular hiring of workers.

“Now, please change your slogan from ‘#NoXikontiriNoVote’ and go to the polls to vote for a government that works for the people.” These were the words of Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga during the handover of the D3810 project on the weekend of 12 May 2024.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘No road no vote’ say angry Limpopo residents in face of chronic service delivery failings

The minister visited the village of Ndindani to hand over the contract to Matiko Holdings, which will build the road. While some residents were happy, others were upset because this came after Giyani mayor Thandi Zitha failed to properly acknowledge traditional authorities chief Mahlathi, and Chief Gawula. The mayor had acknowledged Chief Ndindani and Chief Thomo only. 

The residents felt all the chiefs should have been acknowledged. The communities shouted their discontent, and the mayor asked why they were worried, since they got what they wanted.

The event continued after the programme director asked the people to be calm, and the minister started by singing the song ‘Zizo jika izinto wena ukhalelani?’ (“Things will turn and why are you crying?”), before introducing the engineer and contractor. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘We won’t stop’ — Limpopo villagers ramp up fight for a tarred road

She went on to thank the chiefs for visiting the Union Buildings to seek information on when the road would be built, calling it “best practice” and emphasising the importance of the communities working well with the contractor. Chikunga also warned against anyone trying to extort money from the R263-million contract to build the road.  

Limpopo Giyani tarred road

The road handover was held at Ndindani village in Limpopo. (Photo: Israel Nkuna)

Some residents said Chikunga’s visit was likely due to pressure from the Limpopo Concern team, which had said that if the road was not tarred, there would be no vote.

Residents fighting among themselves

While the project has finally been handed over, the communities have become divided over it. In 2019, a committee was appointed to oversee the tarred road issues, but after a long delay the residents of the five villages in the area elected a new committee. 

Now, the previously appointed committee is accused of dishonesty and corruption. Raymond Nkuna, the leader of the new committee, stated in the “No Xikontiri No Vote” WhatsApp group that the chiefs representing the five villages are not cooperating well and continue to work with the old committee, which the community no longer needs. 

He alleged that these chiefs are being misled by Cedrick Baloyi, an employee of the Greater Giyani Municipality and an ANC member, who he said is “leading them by the nose”. Questions of “efficiency” and the smooth running of the project have subsequently been raised by the new committee which says that without proper cooperation, it is better for the project to stop. 

Residents at the transport minister’s introduction of the tarred road contractor at Ndindani village in Giyani, Limpopo. (Photo: Israel Nkuna)

This comes after allegations that Musa Chavalala, the Ward 19 ANC chairperson, hired only people from Mahlathi village as opposed to hiring people from all five villages. 

“Finally, the new committee has decided to put a stop to the people who have been hired by the ANC branch chairperson, and they won’t be continuing with that work where the issue of recruitment allegedly took place,” Nkuna said on the group.

Read more in Daily Maverick: 2024 elections live blog

The committee found that those hired by Chavalala would not be able to perform their duties properly, since they were not hired through the proper channels. Nkuna shared a report on the communities’ WhatsApp group, saying they had told the contractor to bring his people to work while the five communities look for a way to resolve the issue and work together. 

There has not yet been any indication as to when construction will begin and residents are adamant that the workers must come from all five villages.

Baloyi and Chavalala had not responded to a request for comment by the time of publication. DM

Israel Nkuna is a ward committee representative in Ward 19, a community activist, a human rights and social grants activist and writer at Mahlathi Village in Limpopo, Giyani. Nkuna will be writing monthly articles about the 2024 elections, painting pictures in his villages and the entire Giyani. He can be contacted at [email protected] or on 082 433 8538.

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