Residents of the poor hamlet of Ga-Motodi, just outside Burgersfort in Limpopo, face the difficult choice of buying 2,500 liters of borehole water for 350 rand or fetching it from a river 5km away where the animals also drink.
Those with the financial resources choose the first, but for residents like the unemployed Rebutel Mennisi (43), a mother of four, the second is inevitable.
“It’s hard to buy water when you don’t have food. You take the dirty water from the river, add jake and boil it,” said Menisi.
Another resident, Betty Machel (77), echoed similar sentiments as she washed and fetched water from the river, which she later boiled to make it relatively safe to drink.
Talk to Manisi and Michiel Daily Maverick Hours before President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives for the Impezu Presidential Presidency of the Region VIII Development Model (DDM) on Friday, July 14.
The imbizos provide an opportunity for the local population to directly involve the chief and senior government officials in service delivery challenges. Friday Impezu was held under the motto of “leaving no one behind” in developing communities, rebuilding the economy and delivering services.
“Life here is very hard, you see. We had no running water. Our children are out of work, transportation is scarce and there are no roads,” said Machel, who has lived in the area for more than four decades.
Mashele and Mnisi remain about 3 kilometers away from the Ga-Motodi Sports Complex, where thousands of people have gathered for imbizo.
Ramaphosa started his presidential campaign around the imbizo in March 2022. So far, there have been eight provinces: North West, Free State, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Northern Cape, Western Cape and now Limpopo.
In other provinces, residents used impiz to raise their issues in an organized manner, but in Ga-Motodi the event was almost hijacked by a small group of people who tried to turn it into a political rally.
Instead of highlighting the obvious lack of infrastructure, water scarcity, load shedding and lack of clinics and schools, many attendees sang the praises of Mayor Eddie Maila and Ramaphosa. Some declared their intention to re-elect Ramaphosa to a third term as president, which angered residents, who noted that many in the crowd had been paid to be there.
Ramaphosa was smiling for most of the imbizu, which had dozens of people wearing ANC slogans and chanting revolutionary slogans.
“This is not an imbizo. It is not possible that all these people share the same opinion. The writing is on the wall; they are all rehearsed to praise the Mayor in front of the Chief,” said one angry resident, who identified himself as Uncle Joe.
Read more at The Daily Maverick: “We have no water,” KZN residents told Ramaphosa on imbizo.
Do us a favor and we’ll re-elect you
Resident Stephen Mackey has pleaded with Ramaphosa to ensure services, including running water, youth jobs and the legalization of illegal mining, are provided to the community before the 2024 general election.
“Please, President… In return, we will make sure that the ANC wins the elections next year. We will also make sure that you are re-elected for a third term in 2026 as ANC President.”
Water problems were the dominant issue, which was brought up by almost every speaker who took the stage. MEC Public Works Nkakareng Rakgoale, who chaired the programme, appealed to speakers not to continue broaching the topic.
“Sijukhon is home to three large dams, De Hoop, Luscop and Flag Pochielo,” said one angry resident. “These dams are always full but the same water is sent through huge pipes to Lebowakgomo, Jane Furse, Marble Hall, Groblersdal or Polokwane, while those near the dams continue to drink from the same source as donkeys, goats and cattle.”
In response to the water crisis, Ramaphosa said more than 12 billion rand will be allocated to the chronic water shortages in Sichuhon. However, he expressed concern about poor planning and lack of capacity in the municipality.
Underuse of funds
Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchono has disputed allegations that the government has failed to allocate financial resources to struggling small municipalities such as Sekhukhune. Mchunu said the money was allocated, but not spent by the municipality.
In the 2021/22 financial year, Sekhukhune has set aside R224 million for water. But the municipality spent only R50 million, returning R171 million to the national treasury. In 2022/23, R184m was set aside, R112m was disbursed and the excess returned to the Treasury, Mchunu said.
The president has committed his government to doing things differently in poor rural areas: “The new way we want to operate is this: When they fail to spend money, we take over, whether they like it or not, because our people want government to work for them. Most of the time We do not have a financial problem, but a people problem … “
Mchunu said the government has allocated 12 billion rand and the private sector another 12 billion rand for a new water project in the region, to serve 140 communities around Sekhukhune and Mogalakwena and create 42,000 jobs. This announcement was met with loud cheers.
The people of Sikhon District have been taking to the streets for many years due to the operation of the local mines, demanding a share of the mining wealth.
In May 2023, six villagers were arrested in connection with violent protests by residents who had camped since February outside the Makgomo vineyard near the Impala Platinum’s Marula Platinum mine outside Burgersfurt, preventing trucks from transporting the chrome ore.
Resident and local businessman Nkgthing Mabani said that although the protests were not ideal for the economy, residents took refuge as earlier appeals seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.
“We don’t want to cut off roads, we want to work for our children. Please open the doors,” Maaban said.
Ramaphosa told of the struggles of black businessmen to obtain mining licenses. He said he did not promote illegal mining, but asserted that it was a result of licensing and a lack of jobs. All he and other businessmen in the area wanted was to play an active role in the economy.
“We want mines, we can’t be spectators. We want to be contributors to the economy of this country.”
Read more at The Daily Maverick: Fighting continues Limpopo protesters have vowed to demand a stake in the chrome mine
Deputy Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Dr. Nobuhle Nkabane acknowledged the many challenges, including racial inequality, that his ministry had been grappling with.
“We have tried by all means to transform sectors, but there are also limitations.”
While Nkabane did not go into detail regarding the exact nature of the challenges, she agreed to host Impizou for a two-day session with stakeholders to consider issues raised by local business people.
Before Impezu, Ramaphosa visited a R700 million road construction project in Burgersfurt. The main road, he said, was an indication of the government’s determination to build infrastructure in rural areas.
Regarding calls to build a university or mining college in the area, Ramaphosa said this is a legitimate demand he will try to meet as young people have shown a positive attitude towards access to education and skills. He said, “It is time for us to raise the bar with the youth.” DM