The second day of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Provincial Week programme ended poorly when the leadership of Mangaung Municipality failed to arrive at three crucial water works sites where the NCOP was conducting oversight, writes Tebatso Mabilisa.
The sites include Wepener and Dewetsdorp sewerage works on the outskirts of Mangaung. NCOP permanent delegates are in the Free State to assess the state of services delivery in Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, particularly water and sanitation infrastructure.
After a long and pothole-ridden drive to these sites, the Members of Parliament (MPs) led by Mr Itumeleng Ntsube (Provincial Whip and delegation leader), expressed their frustration with the municipal officials’ lack of accountability, when they had promised to be there.
At Wepener sewerage works, Ms Lydia Moji Mashodi (MP) expressed her shock and disbelief at their absence. However, Mr Michiel de Bruyn (MP) suggested that all parties remain calm and ask for an explanation from Ward Councillor Mr Christopher Lelala.
Proportional Councillor: Mangaung Municipality Ms Maryke Davies was present and she confirmed that there is a serious water shortage in the area. “Our biggest problem is that boreholes have been vandalised and do not work,” she advised. Delegates also heard that the boreholes have needed to be refurbished since 2018.
At the Mooiriver Bloemwater pump station in Dewetsdorp, the Regional Manager of Bloemwater Mr Phemelo Boitse briefed the NCOP delegates on the state of the pump station. He assured MPs that this reservoir could fill Mangaung’s reservoir, but it is the responsibility of the municipality to purchase a pump, so that they do not have to rely on gravity to fill the reservoir. Municipal officials could neither support nor deny this claim.
Indeed, it was a day of great disappointment to MPs and they vowed to summon municipal officials to Parliament to present their case. It was a far cry from a visit to Botshabelo Digital Hub the previous day. This innovation hub serves as a training centre for community members and provides access to ICT. MPs were impressed by the state-of-the-art work done by this centre, which specialises in artificial intelligence, software development, automation, 3D printing and virtual reality. The centre aims to equip the area with the skills necessary to cope with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.