ANC captures state taps in water-for-votes move

12 June 2016 - 02:02 By NATHI OLIFANT and SABELO SKITI
People fill water containers from an Aqua water tanker outside a Wartburg depot. Residents in the area haven’t had tap water for two weeks.
People fill water containers from an Aqua water tanker outside a Wartburg depot. Residents in the area haven’t had tap water for two weeks.
Image: JACKIE CLAUSEN

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal is hit by a water-for-votes scandal in drought-stricken Pietermaritzburg.

The Sunday Times has had sight of a memo that urges comrades to shut off the taps around Pietermaritzburg and dispatch water tankers instead, so that the party is seen to be delivering.

The content of the memo was discussed at a meeting held on May 23 at ANC Moses Mabhida regional office in Jabu Ndlovu Street in Pietermartizburg, according to ANC members who attended.

One said: "The resolutions were from previous meetings which the chair attended and circulated to REC [regional executive committee] members and were adopted on 23 May."

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ANC regional chairman Mthandeni Dlungwana yesterday denied knowledge of the memo and dismissed claims that comrades were controlling the water supply.

He threatened to sue the Sunday Times.

Dlungwana was installed as KwaZulu-Natal MEC for education last week as part of a provincial cabinet reshuffle that benefited supporters of President Jacob Zuma .

Six ANC members of various ranks confirmed knowledge of the memo, with one saying: "It's there ..."

Regional executive committee members appear to have authored the memo, which focuses on preparations for the local government elections on August 3. It says opposition parties shouldn't be allowed space to campaign nor work with ANC "rebels".

It calls on comrades to draft a service delivery plan with the emphasis on water.

"Water is an area that needs this attention as it causes great consternation. We suggest that the officials engage some of the comrades in the district [uMgungundlovu] as a water service authority with a view of controlling the supply of water."

The resolution says comrades must select officials to work with to manage water supply.

"Valves managed by Msunduzi are not easy to work on as they supply mainly areas that we have no interest in, like Hilton," says the memo. It says the ANC needs visibility in areas such as Imbali, Edendale, Mpofana, Impendle and greater Vulindlela.

block_quotes_start The ANC in Pietermaritzburg is beset with factional battles around service delivery failures, including water provision block_quotes_end

"Wherever there is a water shortage, trucks need to be on standby to supply water when the valves are switched off.

"In this way the people are not prejudiced, as they will witness first-hand government in action.

"Managing reservoirs by our own comrades also eliminates a situation where wrong officials start asking questions. This is a temporary arrangement."

Leading ANC members in the region confirmed sight of the memo and others knew of its existence. One said: "It is basically telling comrades the election is won by using resources at your disposal. But with the misuse of resources someone always stands to benefit."

Another said: "Interests go far beyond what you will normally expect."

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DA KwaZulu-Natal legislature caucus leader Sizwe Mchunu said he had been asked to intervene after residents in some parts of Imbali had been without water for 60 days.

He described the political directive to cut water supplies as "disturbing".

Patrick Hlela, a DA activist in the Imbali, said the area had been without water "for more than 60 days".

He said one company had the contract to deliver water to the area. "It is not the drought, because our reservoirs are full. The water is being switched off deliberately."

uMgungundlovu district municipality spokeswoman Mbali Mwandla denied water was being cut off deliberately, describing the allegations as "fallacious and callous". A 15% water restriction had been imposed earlier this year.

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Mwandla confirmed that the municipality contracted a firm to supply water in tankers to areas where there was no bulk water infrastructure.

Dlungwana said he couldn't explain the existence of the memo or the fact that ANC members were talking about it.

But he was aware of talk of the memo because comrades had shown him a text message relating to it. It was based on "wild allegations", he said.

The ANC in Pietermaritzburg is beset with factional battles around service delivery failures, including water provision, and positions on the ANC's election list.

Badedile Tshapha, 54, and Phetheni Ngubane, 50, were shot dead after an ANC meeting in Imbali this week. An ANC insider at the meeting said the water issue had come up .

"Water was the common denominator ... The two comrades were fierce participants. Many issues were raised at that meeting regarding the candidates and the lack of service delivery like water shortages."

Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said three men were arrested in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday in connection with the murder of Ntshapha and Ngubane - only two have been charged.

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