On Wednesday, 25 February 2015, a meeting between Makana Municipality, the South African Local Government Association and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs took place. Zintle Dolweni outlines the highlights of the meeting.
Crucial steps are being taken in an attempt to rebuild the city’s ageing infrastructure, which could bring an end to municipal issues such as water outages. These outages are an issue that has plagued Grahamstown for a number of years. In 2013, a two-week water outage caused both Rhodes University academics and township residents to unite and march, in protest, to the city council offices. It had been said that water outages were a result of municipal incompetence as well as a lack of engineering skills.
Attempts to address the water issues began in September 2014, when Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation, Pamela Tshwete, visited Makana and promised to implement a water action plan. Any amount of progress that has been made since then has not been without hiccups. A little under a month ago, residents in Grahamstown East went without water, when a burst water pipe forced municipal workers to shut down the Botha Hill reservoir. It was announced in the meeting that two experts, one of which is an engineer, are set to arrive this week to begin working on a solution to the problem.
Makana Municipality has been under scrutiny since being placed under the administration of Pam Yako six months ago. This is another issue that was addressed at the meeting. While her contract is set to end in March, several groups, such as the Makana Civil Society Coalition (MCSC) urged the National Council of Provinces committee to give her more time and resources. Vuyani Zondani, Interim Chairperson of the MCSC believes that six months was too little time for Yako to address all that is wrong with Makana Municipality. Zondani also believes that Yako should also be allowed to “fill key positions without fear or political interference in order [to ensure] that the very best available personnel are appointed”.
Other groups which supported Yako at the meeting included the Makana United Business Chamber as well as Rhodes University. It is at this point, unclear as to whether Yako will be renewing her contract as administrator of Makana Municipality.