Slow progress on Rammulotsi toilets

Officials pass the buck

WEEKS after politicians descended on the Free State township of Rammulotsi in the wake of the ANC's own open toilets scandal, it is not yet clear how many toilets have been enclosed.

What is clear, however, is that the issue is still a political hot potato that no one wishes to handle.

When Sowetan spoke to the Moqhaka local municipality, under whose jurisdiction the eyesore falls, the spokesperson declined to comment out of fear that she may contradict her superiors at Luthuli House.

Veronica Ntepe said it was important that "we speak with one voice, otherwise the media will accuse us of contradicting each other. Protocol doesn't allow me to speak (on the issue) when a senior (party) leader has already spoken."

The nervous spin doctor referred Sowetan to ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe.

However, ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu rubbished Ntepe's claims.

"They (Moqhaka local municipality) must just say whether they will enclose the toilets or not. Why are they afraid to contradict us?

"All they have to do is tell you whether they have a plan or not. Why are they now refusing to answer questions? Tell those people to answer your questions because we are not running that council; they are," Mthembu fumed.

When Sowetan drove through the dusty roads of Rammulotsi on Monday, a number of houses had makeshift zinc enclosures, with some toilets enclosed, while others remained open.

We counted 200 fully enclosed toilets. DA councillor Mosa Makoele said 490 toilets had been enclosed, meaning the Moqhaka municipality had enclosed only 112 toilets since the scandal made headlines in May.

The municipality had claimed that it had enclosed 378 ablution facilities before the story broke. However, a contractor appointed to enclose 1200 toilets in March told Sowetan yesterday that 200 toilets were still without a roof.

Phini Motale said the roofs would be completed by tomorrow. Another contractor, who asked not to be named, would not speak about the "big contract" that would see him enclose 240 toilets.

He feared that the municipality would take away the lucrative project.

Meanwhile, some residents had given up hope of the municipality fulfilling its promises.

Selina Molosi, 72, said her eight-year battle to get the toilet enclosed would have been lost had she not decided to build her own enclosure.

Molosi said her only wish was for Moqhaka local municipality authorities to enclose the open toilet they built years ago. She was also unrelenting in her criticism of the ruling party, accusing its officials of showing favouritism when providing services.

"There is nothing the ANC has done here. They just came to take away votes and disappear," she said.

Molosi was referring to a visit by top ANC officials Fikile Mbalula, Free State Premier Ace Magashule and ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.

The political heavyweights went to Rammulotsi after the Sunday Times reported that 1600 open toilets had been built by the Moqhaka municipality in 2003. Molosi has kept her toilet door from falling apart using wire while bricks hold down the roof.