Durban – Zulu King, Misuzulu KaZwelithini, has entered the fray around the issue of water in the Jozini area, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, where a majority is without clean water.
The king says it is worrying that the area does not have water even though it is home to one of the largest dams in the country, Jozini dam which is officially called the Pongolapoort (it derives its name from the Pongola river) dam.
The king made the undertaking to have the matter resolved on Tuesday in Richards Bay while he was addressing a business breakfast which was convened by the Zululand Chamber of Commerce and Industry together with the Department of Water and Sanitation led by Minister Senzo Mchunu.
In his speech, the king told captains of industry that the unique Zulu culture which is mainly rooted along the R66 and King Cetshwayo district and which is famous the world over presents business opportunities in the province.
Equally, the king said it was gratifying to know that KwaZulu-Natal is home to the cities of Richards Bay and Newcastle which are among the fastest growing economies in the country. That shows that the provincial economy is growing.
The king then touched on the issue of water, saying it was a challenge that was affecting the entire African continent and the rest of the globe.
“When it comes to water Macingwane (Senzo Mchunu), water is a passion and I feel that it is the biggest part of my heart because water is a problem in the whole of Africa and the rest of the world.
“We need (dams). I know there have always been questions about why we are allowing the UThukela river to just flow to the sea (without storing some of its water in dams).
“We have just discussed that with Mchunu, the honourable one. I know that we have zones for water catchment areas which puts us in a position that we can supply and store to the rest of the country,” the king said.
He then lamented the plight of the people of Jozini who continue to bear the brunt of not having clean water.
He said it was worrying that people there do not have access to the dam, yet one man (a known farmer) did.
“It is sad, actually I know the place of Jozini very well which the people of the area, Umkhanyakude, it’s funny to think about it sometimes.
“They have water but they don’t have access to it. I know somebody (who I cannot name in public) who has access to the Jozini dam.
"You know who I am talking about. He is the only one who has access to the dam and the water. But we are going sit down with the minister and discuss this later on.”
In May, in an interview with IOL, Mchunu painted a grim picture of the decades-old water crisis in Umkhanyakude District Municipality, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, saying that despite millions of rands being pumped in to resolve the crisis, results were not forthcoming.
Mchunu, who took over the portfolio in August last year following a cabinet reshuffle, told IOL that his conclusion, after having seven meetings on the matter, was that the municipality could not resolve the crisis.
Umkhanyakude district includes municipalities such as Jozini, Umhlabuyalingana, Mtubatuba and Hlabisa-Big Five.
In the past, the stumbling block was that the dam, which was built during the apartheid era, was only legislated to provide commercial farmers with irrigation water.
Some water was used to supply big businesses in the district.
Mchunu said that despite the district subsequently being allowed to draw water from the dam for household use, they were underutilising the permit enabling them to do so.