The office of Limpopo premier Stan Mathabatha has ordered mayors from four municipalities to explain why they snubbed the Mopani regional water summit outside Tzaneen last weekend.
The summit aimed to chart the way forward regarding water scarcity in the district and to plan for the prevention of cholera outbreaks, which have already killed 28 people in Zimbabwe and affected another 3 000.
Those allegedly implicated are mayors for Greater Maruleng (Dipuo Thobejane), Ba-Phalaborwa (Pule Shayi), Giyani (Sasavona Mathebula) and Greater Letaba (Peter Matlou).
The only mayor who attended the summit was Maripe Mangena, whose municipality, Greater Tzaneen, was the host.
“You can’t show your voters the middle finger. Water is life and it affects all of us. That is why it was very important for all the mayors to attend this summit because it talks about the lives of our people,” said Limpopo provincial government spokesperson Phuti Seloba yesterday.
Seloba said mayors were trusted to act as mediators between communities and government. He said because of such reasons, all mayors must attend summits and meetings so they are able to provide the right information to the people.
“We are going to work hand-in-glove with the office of the [Mopani] executive mayor [Nkakareng Rakgoale] to understand why they could not attend. We will need them to provide reasons for their absence. If found that they failed to provide apology, and that their reasons do not hold water, I can assure you that heads will roll,” said Seloba.
“I am highly disappointed with this turnout. I expected all the mayors to be here because water issues affect our everyday lives,” said Rakgoale in her opening remarks at the summit.
“This is a build-up summit which would culminate in a provincial and national water summit. My problem is that those who failed to honour this invitation are the ones who would be speaking and criticising the most at the provincial summit.”
Almost 600 people attended the summit.
Three of the mayors who missed the summit were not available for comment at the time of going to press.
Through her spokesperson, Mathebula apologised for her absence and said she sent a representative.