IFP Open Letter to Premier Sihle Zikalala

I’m appalled by your deafening silence on the ongoing water service debacle in King Cetshwayo District Municipality. It has been a difficult six days for me, trying to use my hometown route, as I was compelled to crisscross the bumpy gravel roads in order to reach my destinations because all entrances and exits had been barricaded with burning tyres. Unlike you, Mr Premier, who drives in blue-light convoys, the people of uMlalazi Nkandla, Mthonjaneni, uMfolozi and parts of uMhlathuze have been unable to reach their work destinations because they fear for their lives.

Trucks have been torched, leaving farmworkers penniless as their employers watch their trucks reduced to ashes, and protesters vow to continue with their protests. In most of the local sugar cane, timber and citrus product farms, operations have been halted, as truck drivers fear for their lives.

This deprives our own people of self-reliance – the same people you claim to defend through the Freedom Charter, the same people who voted you into power.

Some of the essential service workers have been compelled to remain at home because of the hazards posed by the protest. Sick people are unable to reach health facilities. Some patients on chronic medications had pressing appointments with doctors, but could not reach health facilities. This is selfish and bizarre.

Not only has this turmoil resulted in an economic nosedive but the whole furore has complicated the livelihood of communities who were beginning to return to their piece jobs and job searching in order to sustain themselves after lockdown.

Khuzeni, do you know how difficult life can be without water for an hour?

I know people from this District who have been without water for a month or more, who wake up at dawn to queue for water in the Gobhotane River. Some have to literally hunt down streams and rivers, which have turned into cracked river beds.

The uMngeni Water, WSSA and Midmar&Crossmor Companies’ bids for water supply contracts leave a lot to be desired. The alleged conflict of interest by the Municipal Manager in King Cetshwayo District Municipality – who is also a Board Member at uMngeni Water – warrants urgent investigation. Cogta’s silence on this issue raises eyebrows as well. After a media statement I made on Monday and the damage that has been caused by week-long protests, I had hoped you were going to listen to people’s grievances. The most affected communities are people from the rural areas who languish in poverty, due to historically-disadvantaged backgrounds. I hope and pray that history does not judge you harshly for failing to deliver water in your tenure as the head of KwaZulu-Natal during the critical time of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Blessed Gwala IFP
Spokesperson for Community and Safety Liaison
078 290 5842