Water minister cancels visit amidst road blockades and protests

By Masoka Dube

South Africa—Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa canceled her visit to Mpumalanga in the wake of community protests over water shortages.

The visit was scheduled for Sunday but last-minute cancellations were made, days after Pienaar residents in Msogwaba outside Mbombela burned tyres and blockaded roads in protest against week-long water shortages.

“We are currently not aware why the visit has been postponed but as soon as I know I will let you know. The dignitaries were supposed to report on progress made in addressing the water provision problems in the area,” regional water and environment department spokesperson Themba Khoza said on Thursday.

According to Khoza, Molewa’s proposed visit included a sod-turning ceremony for the second phase of the Acornhoek bulk pipeline at Shatale township near Bushbuckridge and the handover of two water treatment plants in Louisville near Komatipoort.

Khoza said the water treatment plants, which are designed to carry out multiple treatment stages, would benefit about 6000 households in Louisville while the Acornhoek bulk pipeline would address the water challenge within the Bushbuckridge local municipality.

“The pipeline will supply domestic water to the community of Bushbuckridge from the Inyaka Dam. The pipeline will ensure that about 95 villages in the Bushbuckridge local municipality have access to clean water,” he said.

Khoza said the minister’s visit was postponed to July 2, when Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza is expected to accompany her.

Bushbuckridge local municipality is one of the province’s poverty-stricken municipalities and has more than 1 million residents. – AENS

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