POLITICAL NEWS - A R400 million cash injection into drought relief projects in the Mopani region is set to turn off the chronic water crisis that has plagued the region for the past nine years.
On Friday, executive mayor of Mopani district municipality Nkakareng Rakgoale handed over water projects worth R100 million to the residents of Bolobedu South, N’wamitwa and Sekgosese in the Greater Tzaneen and Letaba municipal areas.
“This is just in the interim. We hope that after the completion of the Nwamitwa Dam and the Giyani Water Emergency Intervention, all the 1.1 million people of Mopani will have water on their doorsteps,” he said at the handover in Thapene village on Friday.
However, some have branded it a gimmick to woo voters for the ANC in the elections next year.
Rakgoale’s announcement comes shortly after this newspaper highlighted the alleged embezzlement of about R100 million by water project managers in the region since 2009.
It’s also barely two years after former water and sanitation minister Nomvula Mokonyane’s attempts to address the water crisis there proved futile. Mokonyane channelled about R300 million into the Municipal Water Infrastructure Grant for boreholes in the Relela cluster that includes Thapane, Moleketla, Motupa, Mopje, Khebabane, Mphatakhidiba, Bjabjamela and Lereteng.
The project was spearheaded by Lepelle Northern Water.
Investigations by The Citizen since revealed that most contractors abandoned the projects soon after getting their first or second payment.
It was also found that most, if not all, of the boreholes drilled had not produced any water.
Some contractors had threatened to picket Lepelle Northern Water, claiming they stopped work as they had not been paid. Lepelle Northern Water CEO Phineas Legodi said at the time the utility was waiting for funds from the department.
Premier Stan Mathabatha then committed R10 million to drill boreholes in the area in an emergency intervention.
But The Citizen found that these boreholes also did not deliver any water, although the service providers were paid. Provincial government spokesperson Phuti Seloba said that according to his records, all was in order when payments were made.