Local government’s failure to provide residents with precious resource forces desperate citizen to resort to old ways

Chester Makana

Vhembe district municipality resident Vhonani Mulovhedzi decided to take matters into his own hands after being tired of waiting to be connected to clean drinking water.

Growing up in Limpopo’s rural village of Mukumbani that grows tea and boasts fertile vegetation land Mulovhedzi would often watch in fascination as irrigation sprays sprinkled water on different crops.

That convinced him that he would never lack the precious resource.

But last month after waiting almost a lifetime to be connected to a water supply he decided to prospect and dig a well on his property like his forebears did in ages past.

Mukumbani falls under the Vhembe district municipality which lost over R300 million invested in the doomed VBS Mutual bank.

Auditor General advocate Kimi Makwetu recently said the impact of the R1, 2 billion loss invested by municipalities in the looted bank is still being felt by the municipalities concerned.

Eight municipalities in Limpopo namely Vhembe district, Fetakgomo Tubatse, Collins Chabane, Makhado, Lepelle-Nkumpi, Greater Giyani, Elias Motsoaledi and Ephraim Mogale suffered a bulk loss of 72% in investments with VBS bank.

The AG’s report revealed that Vhembe incurred a loss of R369 millions of own revenue invested in the bank.

This resulted in a failure to complete major water projects in the province after the billions could not be recouped when the bank collapsed.

Now the impact is being felt by ordinary residents like Mulovhedzi.

According to local drilling companies, it costs between R10 000 to R20 000 to drill a borehole. For those who reside on the hills Like Mulovhedzi it will cost him more than R30 000.

The cost for Mulovhedzi was too much as his salary is to low to can provide for his family and hire water drilling companies.

Worse, Mukumbani did not receive water tanks that were distributed by the department of water and sanitation  as part of Covid 19 intervention.

  Before Mulovhedzi and his friend Dzingai Sibanda  started digging they used a wooden stick and an orange to detect force of gravity indicating the presence of water underground.

Though the process was new to Mulovhedzi he was already convinced that he would find water underground.

After weeks of digging, Mulovhedzi managed to reach an underground source with  at least 1000 litres.

“Today, I am happy that I found water, what we found now can feed my family but we will dig deeper until we get enough to share with my neighbours,” said Mulovhedzi.

Water at last after weeks of digging. Photo:Chester Makana

According to Statistics South Africa’s (Stats SA) General Household Survey (GHS) of 2018an estimated 46,3% of households had access to piped water in their dwellings in 2018. A further 28,5% accessed water on site while 12,3% relied on communal taps and 1,9% relied on neighbors’ taps.

Although generally households’ access to water improved, 2,7% of households still had to fetch water from rivers, streams, stagnant water pools, dams, wells and springs in 2018.

Only 26,5% of households in Limpopo had access to any type of flush toilet, the lowest of any province.

Vhembe district municipality spokesperson Matodzi Ralushai cited population growth as one of the reasons for the water supply shortages.

“Most villages in Mukumbani and surrounding areas that receive water from Vondo scheme are on water rotation, however we have appointed service providers to upgrade the scheme and is something that will be on going until 2021,” said Ralushai. – Mukurukuru Media

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