Londiwe Xulu
journalist
3 minute read
1 Dec 2021
06:38

New uMgungundlovu mayor Mzi Zuma slams ‘degrading’ manner in which 1 800 households still live

Londiwe Xulu

Over two decades of democracy later, about 1 800 households in the uMgungundlovu District Municipality are still using the bucket system.

Over two decades of democracy later, about 1 800 households in the uMgungundlovu District Municipality are still using the bucket system.

Talking at the district’s inauguration on Tuesday, the newly elected uMgungundlovu mayor, Mzi Zuma, said this was dehumanising.

“We thought at this particular point in time we had cleared the issue of the bucket system,” said Zuma.

He added they needed to find these households quickly so they can change the situation. “This is very degrading and we can’t even call it access to a sanitation service,” said Zuma.

He added he picked this up when he was going through the 2020/2021 Integrated Development Plan (IDP) document. He said if this was the reality, they need to engage with the department of water and sanitation and look at how they can change the situation.

He called it a disaster and said it was not something they would want to see happening under their watch as the new administration.

Zuma, who is the ANC’s former Moses Mabhida regional secretary, said 90% of the district population has access to water, 96% has access to sanitation, 94% has access to refuse removal services and at least 64% has access to electricity.

“This is significant progress and an achievement that we must celebrate, but by the same token we need to look at the levels of access. This should be our preoccupation as the current leadership,” said Zuma.

He also touched on the issue of unemployment in the district as something they will need to attend to. He said the district has a 30,4% unemployment rate and young people account for 19% of this.

He said they should look at initiatives to defeat unemployment.

“We are a mainly rural district and so the agricultural economy should play quite an [important] role in the economic development of the district.”
uMgungundlovu mayor Mzi Zuma

“Some may think our preoccupation should be on the main issues of water and sanitation but our responsibility extends to solid waste disposal and disaster management,” said Zuma.

He said they should also play a role in the economic development in the district. Zuma said there have been economic setbacks in the past caused by the Covid-19 lockdown and the July unrest. He added the district’s towns are still reeling from the unrest.

“There is a road to economic recovery that we need to support and the district needs to play a critical role and work together …,” said Zuma.

He added it was important they look at municipal by-laws and policies to see if they are enabling economic development and an environment that creates jobs. “We are a mainly rural district and so the agricultural economy should play quite an [important] role in the economic development of the district,” said Zuma.

He said they will ensure residents in the district will see tangible results in a short space of time from the commitments they made in their manifesto.

uMgungundlovu provides water, sanitation and environmental health services to six KZN Midlands municipalities which include Richmond, Impendle, uMshwathi, Mpofana and uMngeni.

ALSO READ | Mzi Zuma is the new uMgungundlovu District mayor

The new mayor was also nominated by several ANC branches earlier this year for the position of regional chairperson for the upcoming regional elective conference.

ANC Women’s League leader and former speaker of uMshwathi Municipality, Nonhlanhla Gabela, was elected as the new district municipality speaker while ANC councillor, Sibongile Mabaso, returned as uMgungundlovu’s deputy mayor after first ascending to that position in 2019 following a council reshuffle.

IFP councillors abstained from voting for both the mayor and the deputy.

For the chief whip position, the DA put forward Thembokwakhe Madondo’s name while the ANC nominated Sicelo Majozi.

The ANC, however, questioned if Madondo was allowed to contest the chief whip position since he was elected as an executive committee member. Gabela ruled that Madondo was not allowed and the DA then withdrew its candidate, leaving Majozi to take the chief whip position.