Police whisk water minister Mchunu away from angry crowd in Musina

Residents were demanding a lasting and immediate solution to the area’s water crisis

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Minister Senzo Mchunu was whisked away from angry residents in Musina by police on Friday. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare

On Friday, police had to whisk Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu away from an angry crowd in Musina.

Mchunu had come to engage with the community about water outages. But some believed the minister’s visit was merely electioneering. A resident accused the minister of this and the crowd ululated in support. Mchunu denied the accusation. The meeting was declared closed, but the residents were not satisfied.

In 2022, GroundUp reported on water protests in the town. In March 2023, we reported how residents forced their way into a meeting between the then deputy water minister, the Musina municipality and the Vhembe District Municipality, which is responsible for water provision.

Musina is still facing water outages and residents say little has changed.

On Sunday, the district municipality announced that water will be switched off from 9am to 3pm and from 9pm to 3am on Monday because of borehole repairs.

Last week Thursday, Minister Mchunu and his Zimbabwean counterpart signed an agreement that Musina would get treated water from Zimbabwe’s Beitbridge Water Works from 2026. Mchunu said this was one of the long term solutions to the water crisis for Musina.

But some residents were sceptical.

“This is just a smoke screen. We know for a fact that this agreement is for the Musina Makhado Special Economic Zone project to get water,” said Sewani Kaunda.

Mchunu, who was present for about two hours before he was whisked away, apologised to the residents about the lack of progress. He said three new dams will be built, two between Musina and Makhado, another on the Mutale River.

The current supply to the town is 17 megalitres per day instead of the 23 megalitres needed. Of the 51 boreholes mean to supply Musina municipality, only 23 are working.

Many people in the town are demanding that the local municipality take over responsibility for water from the district municipality, which has failed them for many years. Mchunu said this was a matter for the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

Correction on 2024-03-19 06:28

The resident who accused the minister of electioneering was misidentified. Her name has been removed.

TOPICS:  Water

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