Zikalala demands answers on incomplete KwaMaphumulo project.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has demanded answers and accountability from officials and community leaders following the discovery of a fresh produce tunnel, which was left incomplete after an investment of about R8 million.
Zikalala came across an abandoned fresh produce tunnel project during an Operation Sukuma Sakhe oversight visit in KwaMaphumulo Local Municipality, under iLembe District, on Wednesday.
The project, launched in 2020 to the tune of R7.5 million, was led by local cooperatives, and supported by government.
Government assisted the project with infrastructure, mentorship, as well as potential markets, including schools, hospitals and local enterprises.
The project, which is strategically located not too far from the Dube Trade Port for ease of exporting to international markets, appears to have turned into a white elephant of wasted government investment.
It is alleged that the project collapsed due to internal squabbles over its ownership and control.
Zikalala expressed concern that the project amounts to wasteful expenditure, and is testament to poor management and an absolute lack of accountability.
"This was a project of dreams, prosperity and economic transformation. Sadly, today it lies idle as a burial ground of the dreams of the community.
"We want projects like this to unlock opportunities and lead to economic transformation as part of the next phase of our struggle for economic liberation. We therefore frown upon what we are seeing here, as it amounts to an assault on radical socio-economic transformation," Zikalala said.
Zikalala said government has done all it can on its part to provide support, however "local internal ructions among beneficiaries have landed us here".
He said that they have tasked iLembe Enterprise, including the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the municipality, to provide a comprehensive report and a turnaround plan.
"The project must still deliver on opportunities and unleash the economic dreams of the rural people of eMambedwini in ward 9 of KwaMaphumulo," the Premier said.
Mvutshana Water Treatments Works
Earlier on Wednesday, the Premier visited the R100 million Mvutshana Water Treatments Works and Reservoirs, which has significantly changed the lives of the rural people of KwaMaphumulo.
The plant is to be upgraded with a further R276 million ,which will increase by 100% its current six mega litres capacity to about 12 mega litres.
Led by the Premier, Members of the Executive Council also interacted with people in various wards and addressed specific community issues.
Zikalala said all challenges identified during Operation Sukuma Sakhe will be responded to through the ward-based war rooms, which are located in communities and respond to daily issues affecting the community.
Among the issues raised by the community were housing, electricity and access roads.
Some of the key strategic projects to be delivered in iLembe District, especially KwaMaphumulo and Indwedwe, include uMshwathi Bulk Water Supply Phase 4 to the tune of R700 million; uMshwathi Bulk Supply Phase 5 (to cost R200 million), and uMshwathi Bulk Phase 6, which will cost R300 million.
During his State of the Province Address, Zikalala said these projects will be delivered in phases and will breathe life to the provincial priorities.
The Premier also recognised water provision as a key priority in KwaZulu-Natal.
It is expected that through the three bulk water supply projects, water woes for the KwaMaphumulo and Ndwedwe communities will be a thing of the past.