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Governance crisis in Sundays River Valley municipality

THOUSANDS of residents in the Sundays River Valley Municipality (SRVM) have been left without water for more than a week, after Eskom disconnected the power supply to pump stations in the area owing to non-payment.

In a statement issued by the DA’s Eastern Cape legislature team, Vicky Knoetze, shadow MEC for the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) said, “The SRVM municipal officials responsible for this humanitarian crisis should hang their heads in shame and tender their resignations to make way for competent government who will put the people and securing jobs first.”

She said she has written to the MEC of COGTA, Xolile Nqatha to request his urgent intervention during a crisis of governance in this embattled municipality.

The areas affected by the water outages include Paterson, Moses Mabhida and Addo.

“The problem stems from Eskom stopping power supply to the pump stations that service Caesars Dam, Valencia (Addo) and Paterson owing to non-payment by the municipality.

“Although, the Sunday’s River Valley Municipality has an agreement with Eskom in terms of the re-payment of their overall debt, the Eskom account for the pump stations forms part of a different Eskom account, and therefore does not form part of the debt re-payment agreement.”

The municipality was given notice of the intended disconnection on 12 June but failed to take any steps to resolve the matter.

“To make matters worse, the Democratic Alliance has been informed that the Sunday’s River Municipality is currently unable to pay any creditors, even though it is not on the list of the 14 EC municipalities which are in financial distress.

This issue is further compounded as there is no municipal manager in Sunday’s River Valley Municipality at the moment, there is no chief financial officer - not even an acting CFO, and the mayor is currently in quarantine.

“It has proven impossible to get any answers from the administration or political leadership in terms of when this issue will be resolved. There is simply no transparency and no accountability for the day-to-day running of this municipality,” said Knoetze in the statement.

In the meantime, the municipality is making use of water tankers to deliver water to communities and using generators to pump water to affected areas, however, the supply is insufficient to service all communities, businesses and farms.

According to Knoetze the communities of the Sunday’s River Valley are being deprived of their constitutional right of access to water, with no explanation as to what the reason for the situation is, or how long it will persist.

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