The Guard

The Truth On Board

Electricity and water are needs, not luxuries

By Emily Setona

QWAQWA – Representatives of Eskom and MAPWater painted a bleak picture of the state of electricity and water service delivery, respectively, in the Maluti-a-Phofung (MAP) local municipality which is faced with a severe electricity and water crisis.

In his presentation to the council on June 4, Eskom’s Andre Damons outlined how Eskom will be assisting MAP to stabilize its electricity crisis.
“Eskom has been appointed as the service delivery agent and I need to be quite clear about the role of Eskom. Eskom will ensure that we work together with the municipality to solve the issues that have been identified. I will remind council about what happened two years ago. Eskom funded R10 million to kick start activities, but unfortunately things came to a halt.

“Now the issue we are sitting with is budgetary constraints. Number one we need funding to undertake any project; number two we need the establishment of a Project Management Office (PMO), which outlined that it is the responsibility of the municipality. Without a PMO nothing can happen between Eskom and the municipality.

“Eskom has assessed the situation at the substations, and we have developed plans to normalize and refurbish the substations, but the network of Maluti-a-Phofung is very unsafe; it is scary what is going on there. We cannot do anything without money. We need to develop a plan on where to get the money otherwise all the plans that Eskom and the municipality have worked on together will not happen. It will be hard at this time to talk about the timelines when there is no money,” Damons told the council.

For his part MAPWater’s CEO Willie Lefora said MAPWater is plagued by acts of sabotage from community members and several insubordinate behaviours from internal staff some of whom are facing disciplinary hearings now.
“MAPWater is faced with many problems of infrastructure and the electricity outages also affect our pumping of water. We also found a problem in ward 39 where people know where our valves are and people in the community who don’t have water go to our valves and try to open them.

“This is problematic because when we open the water and residents have been tampering with on our valves and they closed them instead of opening them, then the water won’t reach its destination and the communities where the water was meant to go. Another thing is that in the past 16 years I am the 16th CEO and when it comes to money matters, we owe SARS R10 million because there has never been any order.

“This also affects the discipline of workers because the workers lose discipline because a leader cannot just be there for six months and then there’s a new one. That is why we have implemented consequence management and five or six people are now under consequence management and two are gone. The three or four are busy with their appeals and it is a win or lose, so I don’t know what will happen, if they will come back or not.

Things are so bad that I had to fetch an employee from their home so that they can come to work; that is how bad things are. Management is not strict and there is no adherence to policies at work,” Lefora said while addressing council.

Council speaker addressing councillors during council sitting after the presentations from Eskom and MAWater.

For his part, council speaker Mandlankosi Dlamini said the mayoral committee has been given a task of coming up with an action plan that will deal with these issues.
“The MMCs need to work with the mayor and when the council sits again in the next two weeks, we need a maintenance plan on the electricity and water issue. We also need to talk to our people, our communities because we need to respond regarding the challenges of service delivery,” Dlamini said.