Wembezi, Estcourt: KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has expressed concern about vandalised water infrastructure in the Inkosi Langalibalele municipality. The damage caused by criminal syndicates has left large numbers of residents without access to water and the limited resources of this municipality have to be dipped into to repair the infrastructure.

This morning Hlomuka visited the Loskop Water Treatment Plant in the Inkosi Langalibalele municipality where he assessed the progress in the construction of the facility intended to replace the old treatment which will be decommissioned. The new plant will alleviate the plight of rural communities who have poor access to water as a result of the limited generating capacity of the old plant.

During the visit, Hlomuka received an update on the plant and the challenges it is facing. Chief amongst these is the theft of cables and the stripping of the plant which has impeded its functioning. The plant was vandalised twice in September by criminals who stole important cables. In both incidents cases were opened with the police. Hlomuka has pleaded with residents in the municipality to work with the law enforcement agencies by reporting those who are sabotaging critical government infrastructure.

As part of his oversight visit to the municipality, Hlomuka also met with all the councillors of the Inkosi Langalibalele municipality to address governance issues impacting this municipality which has been under administration in terms of Section 139(1)b of the Constitution since 2017.

The reasons that led the Provincial Government to place this municipality under administration included its deteriorating financial position which has called into question the long-term viability of the municipality. The municipality’s high vacancy rate within its management and its poor contract management were also contributing factors.

The municipality similarly had a debt of R138-million owed to Eskom. Since being placed under administration, some of these issues have been addressed, including the debt to Eskom which has since been reduced to R10-million and vacancies within the senior management, some of which have been filled.

In his meeting with the council, Hlomuka urged councillors to work closely with the Cogta-appointed administrator to address the deteriorating financial situation and to resolve some of the labour-related challenges that continue to plague the municipality.