Some of the protesters, mostly members of the newly formed political party the Economic Liberators Forum - South Africa. Photo: Silas Nduvheni.

Residents march to VDM to demand end to water crisis

News - Date: 08 June 2024


Water shortages in many communities across the Vhembe region are a serious concern. On Monday, 3 June, more than 700 people - mostly members of the newly formed political party Economic Liberators Forum South Africa (ELF-SA), took to the streets of Thohoyandou and marched to the offices of the Vhembe District Municipality (VDM) to demand that these problems be addressed.

The president of ELF-SA, Mr Hulisani Mani, told the executive mayor of the VDM, Freda Nkondo, and her group, which included the municipal manager, Mr Zwannda Kutama, some councillors, and officials, that most communities around the Vhembe region were without water, and he needed the VDM to address the challenge.

Hulisani Mani is the son of the slain South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) member Ronald Mani, who was shot dead in January 2019 along with Timson Musetsho, after voicing concerns about the illegal investment of R300 million by VDM into the now-defunct VBS Mutual Bank. He said that on March 19 this year, his party had sent letters to the offices of VDM, informing them about water shortages in many villages across the district and demanding immediate action.

Mani also mentioned that a senior VDM official who had threatened his father is still employed by the municipality. He urged the VDM to get rid of this official.

“With the utmost urgency, ELF-SA hereby demands that VDM take immediate action within 7 days. Specifically, we call for the implementation of an interim solution in the form of boreholes to alleviate the water crisis. Should the municipality fail to meet this demand within the specified timeframe, ELF-SA will mobilise the communities and take to the streets in peaceful protest,” he added.

Mani said communities did not need luxury boreholes, referring to allegations that the VDM is making use of contractors who charge ludicrous amounts to sink boreholes. “This is too expensive for the district while communities are thirsty,” he said.

In her address, Cllr Nkondo said plans were underway to help resolve water shortages in the district. She said in some rural communities where residents did not have tap water, the VDM used water tankers to supply water. “We have recently bought and added another three new water tankers,” she said.

Nkondo said that the Nandoni water scheme had been designed to serve a few villages in 1994, but the growth in population had created new challenges. “We are working around the clock with the Department of Water Affairs to help resolve water challenges,” she said. She added that they were worried that illegal water connections and ageing infrastructure also hindered their efforts to resolve water challenges.

“The Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) is helping us revitalise some springs around the district, and as I’m speaking, contractors and engineers are on-site. Nine springs have been identified, and we hope water shortages will be a thing of the past when they complete their work,” she added.


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Silas Nduvheni