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WATCH | Zikalala slams ‘favouritism’ allegation after video of water tanker at his home goes viral

18 April 2022 - 10:44 By YASANTHA NAIDOO
A tanker delivers water at KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala's home.
A tanker delivers water at KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala's home.
Image: Supplied

KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala has slammed allegations of preferential treatment in a video of a tanker delivering water to his north coast home as “blatant propaganda, uncalled-for, mischievous and malicious”.

Zikalala was reacting to a social media post by La Mercy resident Riyashan Owen Pather on Wednesday who claimed the premier had arranged his own “private tanker” that was meant to supply water to flood-ravaged communities.

Pather said La Mercy residents were without water for five days after torrential rains battered the province, damaging vital infrastructure and disrupting water and electricity services throughout KwaZulu-Natal. He questioned how the premier had arranged a water tanker to “offload at his private residence”.

On Monday Zikalala’s office issued a statement saying the video is “carefully choreographed and strategically selected to create a false narrative to distract from the intervention the premier did first to communities in his neighbourhood who asked him for assistance knowing he lived in the area”.

His office confirmed the premier had been without water for several days after the floods disrupted water supplies.

Zikalala said: “What that video does not show or fails to mention is that I was approached by members of the community who had been struggling due to a shortage of water as a result of the floods.

“I, together with the community, have gone for days without water. I requested assistance after members of the community pleaded for my help, knowing I live in the area.”

He said his wife and children had collected water in buckets in the days after supply interruptions, a practice with which he was familiar as this was something he did growing up.

“The video fails to mention the tanker provided water to local residents and supplied many before filling at my home. For this person to present the video in a way that implies that only my family got water is blatant propaganda, uncalled-for, mischievous and malicious.”

Zikalala said it was disingenuous and “intended to distract and continue the campaign of creating a trust deficit between us as leaders and the people. The intended purpose is to peddle falsehoods”.

“We have all been deeply affected by this disaster but the community will always come first. Before the tanker arrived in our neighbourhood, my wife had gone to fetch water and carried buckets on her own. She has also actively been providing food and necessities  to people housed at the local community hall after losing their homes.”

Sihle Zikalala's wife Nellie has been distributing food parcels to displaced residents who have taken refuge in a community hall.
Sihle Zikalala's wife Nellie has been distributing food parcels to displaced residents who have taken refuge in a community hall.
Image: KZN Premier's office

In response Pather, who is a member of the La Mercy Ratepayers and Civic Association (LMRCA), said there wasn’t any malicious intent in posting the video. 

On Monday LMRCA chairperson Ravi Ramsundar said on the evening of April 15, a municipal water tanker arrived at the premier’s house, which is near the local community hall, mosque and temple, which were being used to co-ordinate relief and temporarily house residents affected by the floods.

Ramsundar said the mosque had until then distributed water via its borehole. He said some displaced residents and members of the association tried to access water from the tanker but were not successful.

“The vice-chairperson Tashya Giyapersad immediately contacted the premier via WhatsApp. He emphatically denied the tanker was destined solely for his home and indicated residents were entitled to and had been offered water.

“This is factually incorrect as the LMRCA and several informal dwellers who were resident at the community hall proceeded to the truck for water but were advised the water was for the premier only. “

He said a video of the situation was circulated and it was only after the video went viral that they observed a “feeding” photographic opportunity on April 17 with the premier’s wife.

“This issue is more than just about corruption. This issue is about a fight for survival in the fight for access to resources to which every person is entitled as a basic human right.

“The LMRCA will not stand by idly and watch an injustice perpetrated. Nepotism and corruption must be targeted at grass roots level and will not be tolerated,” he said.

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