Residents block roads in anger over Tzaneen water ‘cartel’

Angry residents of Bolobedu in Tzaneen accuse mayors, councillors and directors of fronting contracts and pocketing money. Picture: Alex Matlala

Angry residents of Bolobedu in Tzaneen accuse mayors, councillors and directors of fronting contracts and pocketing money. Picture: Alex Matlala

Those appointed to deliver projects allegedly invoice the municipality or the department and share the payout with their bosses.

Angry residents of Bolobedu in Tzaneen, Limpopo, yesterday barricaded all roads leading into the town and accused local ANC leadership of fronting companies in a multimillion-rand water project.

In his budget vote in May this year, Water and Sanitation Minister Gugile Nkwinti set aside R6.3 billion for infrastructure projects and R2 billion for paying service providers delivering projects on behalf of the department.

Yesterday, incensed residents claimed a huge chunk of that money went straight into the pockets of mayors, directors and councillors through fronting.

“They only appoint service providers who speak the same political language as them, their distant relatives or their boyfriends or girlfriends,” said one disgruntled resident, who only introduced himself as Mathata from Ga-Moleketal village.

Mathata said those appointed to deliver the projects were expected to invoice the municipality or the department and share the payout with their bosses.

He said the bosses were either the mayor who handed over the project, the director who was responsible for the delivery of the project or the ward councillor who worked hand-in-glove with the service provider.

“They work like a cartel. Both the mayor and the director can ask the service provider to charge exorbitantly and share the remainder of the cut between them, with the service provider and the ward councillor,” he said.

Last month, the Mopani District Municipality announced it had set aside more than R400 million to thwart the protracted water woes faced since 2009.

Out of the budget, Mopani District Municipality’s mayor Nkakareng Rakgoale handed over projects worth more than R100 million to address the water situation in the Relela cluster and Bolobedu North in the Greater Letaba local municipality.

The project is supposed to draw raw water from the Thapane Dam to purification plants due to be constructed in Leokwe village. From there it will be redirected to more than 20 villages in the area.

Councillor Letty Thlangwane denied the allegations, saying they were fabrications by those with vendettas against the leadership.

alexm@citizen.co.za

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