LETTER: Barberton needs help from David Mabuza
Deputy president needs to intervene and tackle protests about water shortages
Barberton, home of Deputy President David Mabuza, has been in the throes of serious unrest for nearly a week, including xenophobic attacks on foreigners running spaza shops.
Top of the list of grievances directed at Mbombela municipality is a demand to act to ensure the town and Emjindini, which houses about 80,000 people, is supplied with water. This has become critical due to drought and apparent lack of planning to build a new reservoir to augment the existing dam, which dropped to 15% of capacity recently, leaving many residents without water for prolonged periods.
This demand is justified, but some of the protesters inexplicably destroyed large water tanks supplied by Barberton Mines to alleviate the water shortage. How is such an act possible, given the circumstances?
The other demand is for Mbombela to relinquish control over the Umjindi municipality. Practically, this request cannot be entertained because of the time lapse, but it is worth noting that the person who influenced the takeover at the time was then Mpumalanga premier Mabuza. So he should assume responsibility for the unrest taking place and make an effort to address the residents of Barberton and surroundings.
Barberton is still waiting for the government to confirm the world heritage site status promulgated by Unesco well over a year ago, which could provide a lifeline to the local economy. Why is it dragging its heels on this matter?