WATCH | Fury over lost R350m

A multimillion-rand mega water scheme meant to solve the water crisis in Mnquma has been dealt a body blow. The water and sanitation department has failed to use a R350m allocation and instead returned the money to national treasury, leaving the community high and dry.

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This was revealed by ANC MPL Thabo Matiwane during a heated meeting in Butterworth last week.

Business leaders and residents lashed out at acting Amathole district mayor Zibuthe Mnqwazi and his delegation, saying they had dismally failed to address their water problems.

Resident Noxolo Dunga said: “This is daylight robbery by the ANC government. We are undermined here and only used as voting cows. We want to hear no more stories. We want water – nothing else.”

Some areas in Butterworth have had no water for six months, with a strike by ADM workers allegedly involving sabotage of water supply infrastructure adding to the crisis.

Matiwane said Mnquma’s situation must be escalated to the national government.

He said the unspent R350m allocated for the pipeline transporting water from Ngqamkhwe to Butterworth was returned to national treasury in the 2017/18 financial year.

Matiwane advised that a four-member team led by Mnquma mayor Sithembiso Nceketho and Mnqwazi be elected so it could meet with co-operative governance & traditional affairs (Cogta) MEC Xolile Nqatha to discuss two things – desilting of the Gcuwa Dam and the stalled Ngqamakhwe-Butterworth water project.

“The MEC will convene a meeting of the stakeholders, together with a municipal infrastructure support agent [Misa] and Cogta nationally, before the adjustment of the mid-term budget is passed. This will assist in addressing the longstanding water woes in Mnquma,” said Matiwane.

He said the agent could come in handy with a budget to assist in desilting the Gcuwa Dam.

“We don’t support the raising of the wall of the Gcuwa Dam as that could cost us more than desilting the dam.”

The meeting got so heated that some speakers, who had accused Mnqwazi and his delegation of failing to keep them abreast with the water crisis, told them to “shut up”.

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