President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of a R500 billion support package in the war against the covid-19 crisis may offer the poor some relief – however rural communities without access to running water could still face another long wait ahead reports Mukurukuru Media.

Ramaphosa on Tuesday night said in a televised address to the nation an extraordinary coronavirus budget of around R500 billion will be directed towards fighting the pandemic.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a R500 billion covid-19 relief package

He said this will include the reprioritisation of around R130 billion within the current budget. Ramaphosa said the rest of the funds will be raised from both local sources, such as the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and from global partners and international finance institutions.

He said to date the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, BRICS New Development Bank and the African Development Bank have been approached and are working with the National Treasury on various funding transactions.

While scientists and medics have identified access to clean water and regular washing of hands as one of the key measures in fighting the virus – many rural communities remain starved of access to clean water.

However relief may be on its way after Ramaphosa announced that additional funding of R20 billion will be made available to municipalities for the provision of emergency water supply, increased sanitisation of public transport and facilities and providing food and shelter for the homeless.

But with the wheels of government bureaucracy notorious for moving rather slowly and erratically, frustrated and desperate residents of villages like Petanenge near Tzaneen in Limpopo may face yet another long wait.

They said that every day they read in newspapers and hear speeches by government leaders about water supply for all South Africans to help fight Covid-19 but no tank has ever reached their village.

“Our problem didn’t start now. We have been living like this for decades but our main worry now is government restrictions,” said Pinky Malekana who walks over a kilometre to draw water from the Letsitele river.

Rural communities like Petangene in Limpopo province could benefit from a R20 billion emergency relief to address water shortages among other issues Photo: Mukurukuru Media

Malekana said those who have money hire bakkies to fetch water for them and pay R190 per trip.

Sesi Mashele said all they need is water, before discussing adherence of Covid-19 rules and regulations.

The Mopani District Municipality recently announced receiving JoJo tanks from the national government, but the community says they haven’t seen any of them.

 The spokesman for the district, Odas Ngobeni said there was no allocation for Petanenge village on the 115 Jojo tanks for the district. He said however they are covered by the water tankering schedule which the local municipality is coordinating.

“We continue to encourage communities to communicate with us through ward councillors, or our satellite managers whenever there are areas not receiving adequate water supply, especially as we try to curb the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

Ngobeni added that they may also use the ministerial water Hotline on 0800 200 200.

“The biggest challenge around that area is illegal connections on the pipeline, but as a long term solution, we have started with a project that will cover the whole of ward 24, sections of ward 18 and ward 32,” concluded Ngobeni.

Ramaphosa announced a further R50 billion relief for ‘the plight of those who are most desperately affected by the coronavirus.’

He said child support grant beneficiaries will receive an extra R300 in May and an additional R500 each month from June to October.

“All other grant beneficiaries will receive an extra R250 per month for the next six months. In addition, a special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant of R350 a month for the next six months will be paid to individuals who are currently unemployed and do not receive any other form of social grant or UIF payment.”

He said more than 2 million people have been screened in communities across the country and, of these over 15,000 have been referred for testing. From the more than 126,000 tests conducted, 3,465 confirmed cases of coronavirus have been identified. – mukurukurumedia@gmail.com

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