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Molale, Mzwinila clash over lack of water in Goodhope

MP Eric Molale

A spat has erupted between Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services and the then Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Eric Molale over shortage of water in the latter’s constituency amid by elections.

Documents seen by these publication shows that Molale lost his cool after his counterpart, Mzwinila did not address some of the issues he raised in several letters that he had written to him.

Responding to one of Mzwinila’s letters, Molale stated that, “I want to raise the issue of attending to operational issues, which I realised you did not respond to. In discussing with you verbally, you indicated that those are operational issues that are for the Water Utilities Corporation Board.”

Mzwinila had informed Molale that some of the complaints he had lodged about Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) not being able to provide drinking water in his constituency should be escalated to the Board of the corporation.

Molale admitted that he could not talk to the Board himself. “Procedurally if I, as your colleague, need to be assisted on matters relating to your Ministry, I have to direct issues to you,” he informed Mzwinila.

He added that, “Having clarified that, I request Honourable Minister, you respond to the second part of my letter to you. I humbly so request, moreso that we are now in the midst of a bye election where the topical issue is lack of water.”

In one of his letters, Molale informed Mzwinila that, “I have raised issues with you on the above subject matter (water situation in Goodhope-Mabule) on several occasions.”

Molale further stated that, “I do not appreciate that every time I spoke to you on the subject you would cause your officials to attend to such with a view of finding solutions. I also appreciate the fact that indeed water sources are not adequate and therefore need to be augmented through bowsing.”

He said, “I however need to bring to your attention that if the existing sources were managed optimally, the acute water shortage that we currently experience would be not as pronounced as we see it now.”

Molale said there were, “managemental issues which I believe if attended to, would ease the problem.”

Molale pointed out that the following are some issues that be dealt with to improve the situation.

-Stop villages from sharing pumping engines. An engine pumps at one village for two/three days and then removed to go and pump at some other village. I do not believe Water Utilities (WUC) could be so broke to go that extent.

-Pumpers/Engine Operators are not thoroughly supervised. They do not have operational/pumping schedules.

-broken/damaged pipes have remained unrepaired for 10 month at some places like Tshidilamolomo.

-Engines have not operated for some time due to lack of diesel.

Molale also informed his counterpart that “We have a WHATSAPP group with your WUC official, which is meant to facilitate for easy and quick information follow as well as helping to report on issues that need attention.”

He said the observation is that reports are reported to sluggishly and at times the information we receive is not in tandem with the situation on the ground.

“Honourable Minister, I write this letter to seek your intervention in addressing these challenges. Time permitting, I would like to invite you to see for yourself and get first hand of these challenges,” said Molale.

He added that, “I would also request that some of your officers be transferred out of the region. I am aware that one officer recently arrived from elsewhere. Initially he seemed quite effective. Of late he has kind of slowed down and am suspicious that he may be pulling down by these overstays.”

Mzwinila informed Molale that Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) was progressing well in addressing operational issues in Goodhope-Mabule Constituency.

“Management issues, WUC regularly reviews deployment of its personnel across management centres. The recent changes affecting Goodhope –Mabule Constituency are transfers of the Head of Business Centre for Lobatse and Senior Technician Production, Distribution and Maintenance based at Goodhope,” he said. He added that the changes effected from 1st January 2022. Thus, with these recent changes the issue of human resource was being addressed, he said.

Regarding sharing of pumping engines by villages, Mzwinila said it was not common practice for the Corporation to move and have boreholes sharing engines or equipment. Nonetheless, he said, there were some areas which are supplied using electric generator sets, which are few, whereby during emergencies, quick interventions are implemented to alleviate and supply challenges by moving equipment from one borehole to another on a temporary basis, as a relief measure, such as an intervention is always done considering alternative supply options for the affected areas.

“Delays usually exist in repairs to equipment by external contractors and this greatly hampers service delivery. Six out eight generator sets were functional as at December 2021, of the two non-functional, one is for Sekhutlane village as well as one of two at Sedibeng village. The two generator sets have been repaired and are now operational,” said Mzwinila.

On broken pipes that allegedly remained unattended for more than 0 months in places like Tshidilamolelo, he said, the Corporation’s standard is to ensure that all leakages are attended to within a maximum of 24 hours.

“The Goodhope-Mabule Constituency is going satisfactory on this regard moreso that the area is water stressed and the pipe pressures are low and hence vey pipe failure occurrences.  A dedicated WUC team was stationed at Tshsidilamolomo village from July to August 2021 understanding various activities,” said Mzwinila. He said the team mainly focused on construction of road crossing sleaves along Phitshane-Molop-Mabule Road.

Mzwinila said the engines fail to operate for many days due to fuel shortage which is collected from Lobatse and supplied to far villages like Sekhutlane, he said fuel for service centre is sourced and distributed from Goodhope using a diesel bowser in accordance to set a schedule.

“However, this was has been inconsistent for some time due to frequent failures of the diesel bowser. The bowser has been off-road since August 2021 and is becoming obsolete due to age. Budget for new one is not yet available,” he said.

In the interim, he said, the Corporation resorted to the use of light duty vehicles which are limited to a carrying capacity of 3×210 liters of diesel to supply areas distant from fuel sources.

With regard to update on WhatsApp group, Mzwinila admitted that the level of communication through this platform has not been adequate adding that the new business centre head has been instructed that all interventions like bowsing schedules, water tanker downtime and other important issues must be communicated.

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