Durban - KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala and La Mercy Civic Ratepayers Association (LMCRA) have smoked a peace pipe over a water tanker debacle.
Zikalala came under heavy scrutiny earlier this week for allegedly using his influence to prioritise his family for water supply after the floods left many areas without water.
In the incident that was captured in a viral video, a water tanker was filmed offloading water to Zikalala’s homestead in La Mercy, north of Durban, while many residents were waiting for water at the nearby Mosque.
However, Zikalala initially denied the allegations, saying the water tanker had distributed water to the entire La Mercy area before it went to his house. Zikalala’s version was dismissed by the association, saying residents who were waiting for water were told that the water tanker came exclusively for the premier.
Zikalala later apologised and promised that “it will never happen again.”
The opposition parties called for Zikalala’s head following the exchange of conflicting statements between Zikalala and the LMCRA.
EFF president Julius Malema who visited the Clare Estate informal settlement, said Zikalala must resign for failing to lead with integrity in a time of disaster. He said, however, he was not surprised by Zilalala’s actions, saying the ruling party, ANC, was “better known” for that. Malema donated R500 000 to a local church to assist flood victims in Clare Estate.
“It was not for the first time. We saw it during Covid-19. It is not only Sihle (Zikalala). They all do that. The call for him to step down is an honourable thing. When a national disaster has been declared, someone abusing powers must step down. Sihle (Zikalala) is a failure and a thief. He steals our people's water,” said Malema.
DA Leader Francois Rodgers said: This is not the first time the Premier has put himself before the people of KZN. One only has to think back to the July 2021 insurrection and the abuse of Covid-19 funds by his provincial government departments.
Late on Thursday, Zikalala and the LMCRA issued a joint statement announcing that they have agreed to move forward in the spirit of unity and the greater interest of the community,”
Following the deliberations, the LaMercy Ratepayers Association, in the spirit of reconciliation, apologised to the Premier regarding the incident which arose out of miscommunication.
The parties agree to coordinate better in the interest of the community. The parties acknowledged that in the past, the premier has assisted where he could in terms of water shortages in the area. Both parties acknowledge that the premier, where possible, is a present figure in the community, often assisting whenever he can.
“The Association accepts that the direct representative, the councillor, is the one who should constantly be held accountable for the current issues experienced by the residents and who has been conspicuously absent in dealing with community frustrations.
Now that the parties understand each other’s version of events, the parties agree to improve communication among each other as residents and consider the matter settled and closed, said the statement released by Zikalala’s office.
The Association could not be reached for the confirmation of the statement by the time of publication.