The communities of Highflats, uMzimkhulu, Ixopo and Bulwer under the Harry Gwala District Municipality will finally receive reprieve from their water woes and have access to water closer to their homes and businesses.

This comes after the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Sihle Zikalala today, inspected and commissioned a borehole at KwaSkeyi – a rural community in Highflats. The Premier also drank the clean water flowing out of the borehole during the launch of the KwaZulu-Natal Water Master Plan and Borehole Intervention Programme.

The Water Master Plan spells out the water related challenges and outlines the short, medium and long term solutions. As part of the medium-term measures the provincial government through the department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has built 250 boreholes in six districts; Amajuba, uMkhanyakude, Zululand, uMzinyathi, uThukela and Harry Gwala.

Addressing scores of community members during an engagement in Mzwandile Mhlawuli Sportfield in uMzumkhulu, Premier Zikalala said the Provincial Government of KwaZulu-Natal has prioritised the provision of water and other basic services including electricity, sanitation, roads and internet access.

“We are pleased that this launch of these production boreholes and production pumps occurs as we conclude Public Service Month and Heritage Month. This is a testament to the ANC-led government’s commitment to fulfil the constitutionally enshrined right to water which is guaranteed in our Bill of Rights. It is also appropriate that the ANC- government adopted the theme for the 2021 Human Rights which is held every year in March, as South Africa’s Water Month with the theme of “Water for All.” Government has a keen interest in ensuring that everyone especially those in rural communities also taste the full benefits of freedom by ensuring that they receive basic services like water and decent sanitation,” said Premier Zikalala.“Water is life. It is a precious resource we cannot survive without. We cannot grow the economy and create employment without it. It is necessary for agriculture and is always at the heart of economic development. With the advent of COVID-19, we also saw water becoming central in fighting the pandemic which first announced itself in KwaZulu-Natal in March 2020. Our prevention strategy for arresting the spread of the infectious virus has been based on strict hand hygiene by washing hands regularly,” said Premier Zikalala.

Furthermore, Premier Zikalala said other major water projects include:• The uMshwathi Bulk Water Scheme launched in November 2020 at cost of R 500 million;• The Lower uMkhomazi BWSS Umgeni Water which is estimated to be completed in 2023 at an estimated total cost of R 3 billion;• Cwabeni Project Location which will be completed in 2022 at an estimated total cost of R 1 billion.• Stephen Dlamini Dam – the estimated project cost is R1billion and the estimated completion date is 2023;• uMkhomazi Water Project: once completely developed, phase 1 and phase 2, will be the largest water transfer scheme in South Africa, at an estimated total cost of R 23 billion.

“The Water Master Plan is one of the clearest indications by our government of our commitment to building better communities by delivery that is tangible, demonstrable and measurable. This Provincial Water Master Plan lays out all the facets of that requirement and will be a test of our mission to build a capable developmental state which adequately addresses the needs of our people in its delivery of quality, sustainable services. The plan will require no less than R150 billion in the next ten to fifteen years,” said Premier Zikalala.

Premier Zikalala was joined by the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ravi Pillay, MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development Bongi Sithole-Moloi, MEC for Social Development Nonhlanhla Khoza, MEC for Health Nomagugu Simelane, MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works Jomo Sibiya, Provincial House of Traditional Leaders Chairperson Inkosi Phathisizwe Chiliza and local leadership, Provincial Planning Commission Chairperson Mzimkulu Msiwa the Director-General of the Province Dr Nonhlanhla Mkhize.