Hostile reception for David Mabuza in Free State
Pretoria - Deputy President David Mabuza yesterday encountered a hostile atmosphere in Phuthaditjhaba in the Free State, where a group of angry residents staged service delivery protests over power outages caused by faulty transformers.
They were also aggrieved by a shortage of water after at least R220 million put aside for a water distribution project allegedly went missing.
They held up placards calling for better service delivery and protested at the entrance of the Thabo Mofutsanyane District Municipality, where Mabuza was to meet stakeholders.
Community leader Mongezi Malawane said: “It has now been months since we have been without electricity because of the faulty transformers. We now want the deputy president to intervene in these issues.”
He said a protest was planned to get Mabuza’s attention during his visit after “the leadership in Maluti-a-Phofung failed to give us any solution”. “We tried to raise our matter with the MMC for Infrastructure, Ditabeng Nhlapo. He is the one who is supposed to give us answers as to why we don’t have transformers …” Malawane said
Mabuza told the media the purpose of his visit was to address the challenges of water and electricity. “We have been dealing with this problem of electricity, but because electricity and water are related, if there is no electricity you can’t pump your water,“ Mabuza said.
He said both the municipality and Eskom presented him with plans on how to go about tackling the problems.
“I am quite convinced that it is a workable plan. We are still waiting for a plan from the Water and Sanitation Department. They have got a number of projects that are running here and some of the projects have been disrupted,” Mabuza said.
He said the government representatives would return in 15 days to talk to all the business forums about their concerns.
“At the end of April we are going to get the problem of electricity resolved in Maluti-a-Phofung,” he said.
Mabuza had earlier visited the Elizabeth Ross power station in the area, which is being built. He was told the project would take at least five years to be completed. “I have not accepted the time line. So we are going to speed it up,” Mabuza said.
Regarding allegations that an amount of R220m budgeted for the water project had gone missing, he said: “We are going to have a discussion with all the businesspeople here because these are the people who are alleging that money has been stolen.”