Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha experienced the repercussions of poor service delivery by his own government when he was forced to arrive late at an accountability meeting. Mathabatha, well-known for his punctuality, was embarrassed when he arrived late for a meeting with the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) in the provincial legislature.
Mathabatha informed Scopa that the reason for his delay was the poor road conditions he experienced while traveling from Polokwane to Lebowakgomo.
“To re-emphasize, 10 o’clock, honorable premier, is 10 o’clock,” said provincial Scopa chairperson Donald Selamolela, who was not impressed that they had to wait in the chamber while Mathabatha and Finance MEC Seaparo Sekoati were late.
Selamolela mentioned that while they didn’t have to wait for too long before Mathabatha arrived, they were surprised that someone like him would be late.
“You had said in the previous meeting that you are worried that we do not start on time. We ensured that 10 o’clock is 10 o’clock, but it is surprising that the advocate of punctuality today dishonored punctuality,” said Selamolela.
In his response, Mathabatha expressed his dissatisfaction with the condition of the Lebowakgomo-Polokwane road that he had taken to reach the legislature.
“My sincere apology, chairperson. The road between Lebowakgomo and Polokwane is just terrible. My apologies for that,” said Mathabatha.
The provincial ANC chairperson has had to apologize for the poor service delivery witnessed in his province on multiple occasions. In September, Mathabatha openly acknowledged to parliamentarians that ensuring access to water for the citizens of the province has been a significant challenge during his five-year tenure as the leader of Limpopo.
Mathabatha spoke to members of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) who visited the province for a fact-finding mission. The mission had a specific focus on bulk water and road infrastructure as part of parliament’s National Provincial Week.
The permanent delegates of the NCOP in the province have discovered that a significant number of households, totaling 132,009, are currently dependent on borehole water for their daily needs. These households are located in 192 villages and two towns within the Vhembe District.
There are several factors that pose a threat to a reliable water supply. These include leakages in the bulk water pipeline, widespread vandalism, unpredictable load shedding, and deteriorating infrastructure.
During the meeting, Wiseman Maluleke, the director for water services at Vhembe district municipality, informed the delegation that there are currently 51 operational boreholes.
According to him, these boreholes have been strategically connected to an 8.1-kilometer bulk water pipeline. This pipeline serves the purpose of transporting raw water from the boreholes to the Nwanedi Water Treatment Works, where it undergoes purification.
“Clean water is then pumped from the treatment works to various reservoirs that are connected to reticulation systems in all the villages and the two towns,” he said.
The significant reliance on boreholes highlights the crucial role they play in fulfilling the water requirements of the local residents. Without boreholes, these residents would have no choice but to share water sources with animals.
According to Maluleke, the intermittent power outages are causing disruptions in the pumping and distribution of water, which is further worsening the strain on the already fragile system.
During his address to the NCOP delegation, Mathabatha openly acknowledged the gravity of the situation and demonstrated an understanding of the potential ramifications that extended water shortages could have.
“Let me briefly acknowledge that water has been our greatest challenge in this province. This is despite the amount of reticulation done by our municipalities. The higher challenge is, therefore, the [various] sources of water.
“In the past five years, we have seen bigger dams in Vhembe and Sekhukhune, for example, failing to reach the communities around them. With a growing population in our province, we are encountering more and even higher demand as far as water needs are concerned,” said Mathabatha at the time.