By Libuseng Nyaka
QWAQWA – It does not rain but pours for residents of Qwaqwa as community leaders who used to be vocal in the criticism of the water shortage in the area inexplicably went silent after allegedly receiving a cut from the R220million allocated to address the water supply crisis in Maluti-a-Phofung.
This emerged during an SABC TV programme ‘Leihlo la Sechaba’ on Monday which saw some of the leaders, who even led protest marches under the slogan ‘Metsing pompong’, admitting that unspecified amounts of money had been deposited into their bank accounts.
The R220 million was allocated by the minister of water, human settlements and sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu, to address the water crisis in Qwaqwa but, a year later, there is still no visible progress; there is no water from the taps and on rare occasions when the water comes out of the taps it is contaminated and not healthy for human consumption.
Instead of addressing water crisis by ensuring that residents get clean water from their taps, some leaders of the Qwaqwa Shutdown movement working in cahoots with Sedibeng Water, allegedly enriched themselves with the funds.
Relating how it all started, the President of Dikwankwetla Party of South Africa Moeketsi Lebesa poured scorn on the Shutdown leaders who have turned their backs on the people just to satisfy their selfish needs.
He said after the minister left the money, a committee was set up that was made up of community representatives such as business, religion, political parties as well government and Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality officials; however, the committee has been short-lived as only two Shutdown leaders remain active as a link between Sedibeng Water and community.
But things have since changed after the two leaders started receiving funds.
“They stopped holding public meetings to gatherings to give residents feedback on the progress; they also lost interest in protests against lack of water in the taps. To show that the two leaders of shutdown were receiving funds from Sedibeng Water, they each purchased brand new cars. That is an insult to the intelligence of Maluti-a-Phofung.”
Lebesa sentiments were echoed by a fellow Shutdown committee member who revealed that some of the leaders of the Shutdown movement have indeed been allegedly receiving money from Sedibeng Water.
“When we no longer receive progress reports on the water crisis, we conducted our own investigations which revealed that money had been exchanging hands between Sedibeng Water and the two leaders, mainly Ntate Mpho Sikhosana and Bigboy Mazibuko,” Joyce Seola claimed.
According to Seola, the two members of the committee – Sikhosana and Mazibuko – were working directly with Sedibeng; they had regular meeting and as a result, money was deposited into their accounts.
Explaining how the money ended up in the pockets of two leaders, Seola said the pair were entrusted with monitoring water tanks distributing water to the residents of Qwaqwa; in the process they would pay each driver R300 while R400 remained in their accounts.”
However, the two Shutdown leaders have since denied the allegations. Sikhosana had this to say in an interview with the SABC: “We do know of any committee that was formed, but what I can tell you is that Ntate Mazibuko and I were at the forefront in our struggle.”
Maluti-a-Phofung local municipality has since opted to distance itself from the whole saga.
“As the municipality, we do not know about the funds paid out by Sedibeng because the minister came here to intervene in a crisis and the funds were handled by Sedibeng. Ours as municipality was an oversight role to ensure the job is done; we were never involved in the financial aspect,” explained executive mayor of Maluti-a-phofung Masetjhaba Lakaje-Mosia.
Cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Thembeni Nxangisa corroborated the mayor’s statement.
“We have not received any reports of maladministration of funds. We have an intergovernmental committee where we discuss issues pertaining to this matter.”
This is not the first-time scandals relating to R220 million pledged to address water crisis, are coming up.
Last year it emerged that some officials in Sisulu’s ministerial advisory team were itching to get their hands on the funds.
Although there is no evidence to suggest that any crime has been committed, a recording suggests that a senior ‘adviser’ in Sisulu’s team was actively involved in highly questionable discussions regarding an emergency tender meant to address the water crisis in QwaQwa.
“We can all share the slice because it is a lot.”
This is what Thami ka Plaatjie, chairperson of the ministerial water services advisory group, known as the National Rapid-Response Task Team [NRRTT], was heard saying in an audio recording that City Press verified.