Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu and Limpopo public works MEC Dickson Masemola are the latest ANC politicians accused of using massive government projects for party electioneering ahead of the local government elections.
Mchunu has been accused by the opposition of using lucrative bulk water and sanitation projects, while Masemola is accused of using massive road projects to woo voters to vote for the ANC in the upcoming municipal elections.
Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced last week that the local government elections would be held on 1 November. The announcement has since been seen by political parties as a window to garner support from eligible voters.
Mchunu has been visiting provinces throughout the country, assessing the provision of water and sanitation. In the past fortnight, he has been to the Free State, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and Limpopo provinces.
Meanwhile, Masemola has also been on the move, launching multimillion-rand projects that seek not only to improve the road infrastructure in Limpopo, but also creating much needed jobs for skilled and unskilled labourers in extended public works projects.
On Tuesday, Masemola was in Collins Chabane Local Municipality in Ha-Mashao, where he launched the so-called Letsema Ditsileng- a labour-intensive roads revitalisation and job-creation programme.
Masemola said the project, which was launched in all of the province’s 22 municipalities, hopes to create over 4,000 jobs in a period of three years. He said each project has a budget of R40 million, adding that during the construction phase, unemployed youth, women and people living with disabilities would be employed.
While many applauded Mchunu and Masemola for their work, others accused them of using state resources to woo support for the ANC in the upcoming municipal elections.
Why wait until right before elections?
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader in the Mopani region of Limpopo, Bazooka Hlungwana accused the two leaders of blindfolding the voters.
“Each year, weeks before elections, they launch massive projects with promises of job creation. But soon after the polls, they abandon the projects and leave people still swimming in a pool of hugger-mugger. This is pure abuse of power,” said Hlungwana.
DA leader and MPL in Limpopo, Risham Maharaj, also accused the ANC-led government of abusing state resources for its own political gains.
“Our people are not fools. They won’t fall prey to the ANC’s antics. They have told us that they are tired of sleeping with empty stomachs, tired of drinking water infested with water-borne diseases, using candles for light at night, using donkey carts to travel to town, and sleeping without a roof over their heads.
“Most of those we spoke to have asked only one question: ‘why now when service delivery projects had been abandoned for years?’ This thing of cutting ribbons and sod turning must just come to an end,” said Maharaj.
Masemola’s spokesperson, Joel Seabi, denied the allegations of electioneering, saying government could not stop delivering services because an election date had been set.
“We have launched these projects months before the election date and we are continuing doing what is expected of us as government,” he said.
In his response, Mchunu it was a coincidence, adding that their “subsequent assumption of duty is being perceived as electioneering on behalf of the ruling party, the ANC”.
“These comments are just beside the point. The point is that it is a rainy season and service delivery will reach the citizens a minute before elections and a minute thereafter,” said Mchunu.