Taps remain dry as Mogalakwena waits on the ANC

Jerry Ngoetjana, who runs a car wash business, says they are frustrated by the water shortages. /Lucas Ledwaba
Jerry Ngoetjana, who runs a car wash business, says they are frustrated by the water shortages. /Lucas Ledwaba

In his last Facebook post, slain ANC youth leader Ralph Kanyane lamented over the dry taps in areas falling under the Mogalakwena local municipality in Limpopo.

"Mogalakwena municipality re kgopela Meetse [we are pleading for water]! Mahwelereng has never been like this in the history of democracy," he wrote on July 23.

The post was accompanied by images of drums and buckets at the gates of homes in Mahwelereng near the town of Mokopane.

Just 24 hours after posting, while sitting in a car with his comrade Vaaltyn Kekana at a shopping complex in Mokopane - the pair was shot dead by unknown gunmen.

The taps remain dry as residents await political intervention from the ANC, which dispatched its deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte to the town to meet with party structures after a three-day shutdown of the bushveld town organised by the Mokopane Task Team (MTT).

Among its demands, the MTT wants mayor Andrina Matsemela and some members of the council to resign and for those behind the killing of political activists to be brought to book.

Last week's shutdown affected businesses and schools.

But MTT spokesperson Mpho Tjale said they had suspended the shutdown pending feedback from the ANC.

It is suspected in political circles that Kekana and Tema were victims of a purge by those implicated in a dossier detailing corruption amounting to hundreds of millions of rands. Tjale said Kekana, who chaired the municipal's public accounts committee, was about to table a report involving corruption of around R700m when he was killed.

"It [the report] was to say who was involved in that R700m that was looted and he was about to reveal that. We don't know what happened [after that]," he said.

During a shutdown action, protesters listened to a phone recording played on a PA system, which the organisers said was made by Kekana, in which he mentioned a politician who "wanted to remove him".

The recording has further fuelled speculation that Kekana was targeted by his own comrades.

A report by auditor-general Kimi Makwetu revealed that the municipality had incurred irregular and unauthorised expenditure amounting to R1.17bn in the three years up to the 2017/18 financial year.

The Public Servants Association (PSA) has joined calls for Limpopo premier Chupu Mathabatha to place the embattled municipality under administration.

The Democratic Alliance in Mogalakwena said it will table a motion of no confidence against Matsemela "as a result of her repeated inability [to] address the crisis of governance in the municipality".

Mathabatha's spokesperson Kenny Mathivha said legally, the premier cannot order a municipality to be placed under administration unless council initiated and supported such a call.

But as the political battles continue behind the scenes, residents such as unemployed youth Joseph Ngoetjana, who tries to make a living through a car wash business in Mahwelereng, continue to struggle.

"This business is my bread and butter. But without water I can do nothing," he said.

He has to buy water from individuals with boreholes in their yards. Although business is relatively good due to the poor state of roads in the area, he has to ration his water, which impacts on his takings.

Tinah Mogotlane, a resident of Ga-Madiba, is worried about her laundry business which she says is now forced to operate for half a day due to the constant water outages.

Both the ANC and the municipality did not respond to requests for comment.
- Mukurukuru Media

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