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Media Release

23 October 2015

Drought roadshow debate a major success

UThukela District Municipality participated in the Ukhozi FM live debate show that was held on Friday in the early hours of the morning at the Civic Centre Hall, Ladysmith. The radio talk show is one of the series prearranged by the KwaZulu Natal Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs department and the Department of Water and Sanitation. It seeks to highlight the plight of a drought in the province and in some districts, and how the districts are responding to challenges posed by drought.

District Mayor Cllr DCP Mazibuko, UThukela Area Engineer Thabiso Mngoma and CoGTA Portfolio Committee Chair Nomagugu Simelane were part of the panel. The Mayor started by highlighting the impact of the drought in the district. She said about 4000 jobs are at stake because many businesses are using water to operate their businesses. However, as a municipality some interventions have been made to assist businesses to keep them active during this trying time.

In response to a question asked about the Woodstock Dam situated in Bergville but also supplying the Gauteng province with water, the Mayor clearly said all the dams belong to the Department of Water and Sanitation. “We have no control over the dams as the municipality as they are owned by the Department of Water and Sanitation. As the municipality we only get permission to use water from the department”, added the Mayor. The Mayor also emphasised the issue of water recycling which can assist in water conservation.

Mr Thabiso Mngoma clarified the issue of water levels in the dams across the district from a technical perspective. He mentioned that water levels have dropped in the dams drastically. Ladysmith is now relying on one source of water which is Spioenkop as Klip River is completely dried up.  “At Indaka municipality the Oliphantskop Dam has dried up in such a way that the pumps have been switched off. Water tankers have been deployed in the area to supply the community with water”, said Mr Mngoma.

Mr Mngoma also touched on the issue of refurbishment of aging infrastructure. He told the audience that plans are already in place to undertake such project.  He, however, warned the public to desist from vandalising existing infrastructure as this practice regresses development.  CoGTA Provincial Portfolio Chair Nomagugu Simelane told the audience that government has made some interventions to assist affected districts including UThukela.

“It is a known fact that there are eight districts which are worst affected by the drought in the province including UThukela. Government has come on board to assist the affected districts with the purchase of water tankers”, said Ms Simelane.

Ms Simelane also mentioned some challenges posed by illegal water connections stating that this practice has a negative impact in terms of water supply. She said sometimes you find water spilling into the streets as a result of these illegal connections. She then urged people to desist from engaging themselves to such unlawful practice. Ms Simelane also encouraged the public to harvest rain water as a means to conserve water.

Members of the public were generally pleased with the way UThukela District has handled the drought crisis. One such a person was Mr Mthethwa an emerging farmer from Indaka municipality who commended UThukela for trying its best to tackle the crisis head-on by dispatching water tankers to supply them with potable water. Mr Mthethwa then urged other government departments like Agriculture and Economic Development to come on board as well and play meaningful roles going forward.

-ends

Issued by: Jabulani Mkhonza
UThukela District Municipality
Communications Unit
Cell: 072 175 5650