By Libuseng Nyaka
QWAQWA – The community of Maluti-A- local municipality gathered at the Phuthaditjhaba multipurpose hall on Wednesday where they voiced their concerns in the build-up to the Presidential Imbizo to be held in Bloemfontein on Saturday this week.
Inputs from the engagement that was headed by agriculture and rural development MEC Thembeni Nxangisa and the leadership of Maluti-A- Phofung will be incorporated into the deliberations of the imbizo.
Among issues that were brought up by community members is poor service delivery, specifically relating to roads infrastructure and electricity and, water supply.
Addressing the issue of unreliable power supply in Maluti -A-Phofung, Nxangisa said the municipality does not have the capacity to address electricity challenges as it already has a huge debt with Eskom and cannot afford to replace the aging infrastructure, as well as curb illegal connections.
“The municipality has no capacity, that is why the Deputy President intervened and recommended that Eskom should take over power supply in the municipality. We are waiting for the council to make the final decision. Eskom is the only solution for electricity problems because the municipality has no capacity; we must finalise that process. The municipality has no capacity to build new substations, replace transformers and introduce new meter boxes.
On the issue of water Nxangisa said there is no way QwaQwa can be described as place with no water supply.
“Qwaqwa has a lot of water but officials are not doing their job of maintaining the infrastructure. We are working on a plan to ensure that there is a connection to Sterkfontein to enable reliable water supply to QwaQwa. The minister of water and sanitation is already working on the process. We will follow up on the progress in this regard.”
He pointed out that challenges of potholes and sewage spillages must be attended to by the municipality because it is part of their mandate.
“When the municipality gets an equitable share of the municipal Infrastructure grant (MIG), we must attend to problems of sewages and roads. The municipality told us that it has seven sewages dams that are not functional, so that is where MIG will intervene because the spillages flow into Vaal River.”
Nxangisa also explained the district development model (DDM) was the main reason for his visit.
“I am here because of DDM to ensure that we work together with the municipality. Secondly I am here because the President is coming to our province, so I am going to report back to them and make suggestions. The President will take them and respond to us later.”
Meanwhile, the minister in the Presidency Mondli Gugubele said the purpose of the Imbizo is to ensure that every South African is involved.
“We are going to look at a number of issue and a progress report, but what we acknowledge is that the basic socio-economic structure programme in the whole of Free State, especially when it comes to water, sanitation and others, needs urgent attention. Among other interventions was the reconfiguration of the Bloem Water board to actually make sure that it becomes responsible for the province. This after Sedibeng Water which had lots of problems, was disestablished. In Maluti-A- Phofung there has been an intervention to connect water from Sterkfontein dam to make sure Harrismith, Thaba -Nchu and Qwaqwa get water, while major interventions are being made. There is also a move to open a line from Gariep dam to Bloemfontein because the current dams are inadequate,” Gugubele said in an interview with the SABC.