Angry residents savage water minister

Henry

By Bernard Chiguvare, GroundIp

Police officers had to rush Senzo Mchunu, minister of water and sanitation, to safety after a crowd of residents reacted angrily to his visit to Musina in Limpopo. Mchunu visited the community on Friday to meet about the ongoing water cuts.

However, some residents felt that the minister’s visit was mere vote solicitation. Resident Nora Ndlovu accused the minister of this, with the crowd cheering her loudly. Mchunu denied the allegation and the meeting was closed. However, residents were not at all satisfied.

GroundUp already reported in 2022 about so-called water protests in the town. In March last year there were again reports of residents who stormed into a meeting between the then deputy minister of water and sanitation, the Musina municipality and the Vhembe district municipality – which is responsible for the supply of water.

Musina continues to suffer from water cuts and residents say little has improved since then.

On Sunday, the district municipality announced that water will be turned off from 09:00 to 15:00, and again at these times on Monday, so that repairs can be made to boreholes.

Last week, Mchunu and his Zimbabwean counterpart signed an agreement according to which Musina will receive treated water from Zimbabwe’s Beitbrug water works from 2026. According to the minister, this is one of the long-term solutions for the water crisis on Musina.

However, some residents remain skeptical.

“It’s just a smokescreen. We know for a fact that the agreement was entered into for the Musina Makhado special economic zone project to get water,” says Sewani Kaunda.

Mchunu, who was present for about two hours before being taken away, apologized to residents for the lack of progress. He says three new dams will be built, two between Musina and Makhado and a third on the Mutal River.

The current supply to the town stands at 17 megalitres per day, instead of the 23 megalitres required. However, out of the 51 boreholes that must deliver water to the Musina municipality, only 23 are in working order.

Many residents of the town are also demanding that the local municipality take over responsibility for water from the district municipality – which has let them down for years. However, Mchunu says the Department of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs must decide on this.

  • This report was originally posted on GroundUp and is used with permission.