‘We will force government to take our plight seriously’

The situation in Vuwani worsened after residents embarked on a total shutdown, leaving almost 50 000 learners affected as they are not allowed to go to school. Photo: Archive

LIMPOPO – Furious residents of Vuwani have accused the President, Jacob Zuma, and the Premier, Stanley Mathabatha, of failing to implement resolutions taken and as a result, embarked on a complete shutdown of the area since Monday.
According to residents, Provincial Government and the Inter-ministerial Task Team led by the MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (CoGHSTA), Makoma Makhurupetje, failed to implement the resolution that the Vha-vhenda king, Toni Mphephu Ramabulana – alongside the Vha-vhenda traditional leadership and the premier, presented to the president, that stated that Vuwani should be serviced by the Vhembe District Municipality instead of the newly established Lim345 Municipality.

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The Pro-Makhado Task Team Spokesperson, Nsovo Sambo, said residents demand that the resolutions be implemented or the shutdown will persist.
“We have made it clear that we don’t recognise the Lim345 Municipality and that we don’t want anything to do with it,” he said sternly.
A resident of Vuwani, Humbulani Mulaudzi, bemoaned the lack of services experienced in the area.
“We wake up early in the morning to get water from a communal tap some two to three kilometres away instead of getting water on our doorstep, as promised by the ANC. As if that is not enough, our roads resemble the aftermath of the war in Afghanistan. Moreover, only one of the more than 20 schools that were destroyed during the demarcation stand-off is being renovated.
“To add insult to injury, women and children are being raped while walking distances to fetch firewood, while others are maimed by hooligans while walking in the dark to and from work or government institutions such as hospitals, clinics, police stations and home affairs,” added Mulaudzi.

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Early in August, the Inter-ministerial Task Team and Pro-Makhado Municipal Task Team met and resolved that Vuwani would no longer receive services from Vhembe, but from Provincial Government instead.
Spokesperson for the disgruntled residents, Alex Ramashau, said the president had agreed in principle with the local leadership, including the Pro-Makhado Task Team and Ramabulana that all services would come from the Vhembe District Municipality.
“We are perplexed that none of the promises have been implemented. We have begun to believe that the decision taken during the meeting was a charade,” he said.
Ramashau added that, to force government to take the plight of the community seriously, the community decided to take it to the streets and call for a total shutdown of services in the area.
In response on Monday, Provincial Government said the Vuwani community was being “impossible”.
“They have rejected a R52 million project to build and maintain roads in and around Vuwani simply because the project was to be implemented by the local municipality,” said Government Spokesperson, Phuti Seloba.
Seloba said the same community refused the official handover of local municipal offices in the area simply because it was not done by the district municipality.
“We have already graded some of the roads in the area. Hands in glove with relevant departments, water and electricity were also being prioritised. But instead of giving us gratitude, they give us attitude and the main people at the palatable receiving-end are learners, who should be going to school to blossom their future,” he said.
He also refuted claims that the MEC refused the implementation of the resolutions.
“The task team will ensure that it works with the relevant stakeholders to accelerate service delivery in Lim 345 Municipality,” he concluded.
About 50 000 learners in Vuwani didn’t go to school with 48 days remaining for them to write the final year examinations.
More than 30 schools and government buildings have been destroyed or set on fire, with the damage estimated in excess of R300 million.
Hangwani Mudau, a Gr 12 learner who wants to study electrical engineering at the University of Johannesburg, said he was angered by the shutdown as he is supposed to be preparing for the examinations.
The stand-off in Vuwani started two years ago after residents refused to be moved from Makhado Municipality and be incorporated into a new municipality, resulting in a demarcation dispute.
Fifteen out of 21 villages in Vuwani want to be part of the Lim345 Municipality, while villages like Vyeboom, Masakona, Tshikonelo and Ha-Mashau do not want to be part of the merger municipality.
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Alex Matlala and Rivalani Myambo

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