KwaZulu-Natal to get mega water board with new members – Mchunu

Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu

Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu

11th May 2023

By: News24Wire


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Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu plans to axe 24 members of two embattled water boards to make way for a new water structure at the end of July.

The proposed name of the new structure is the Umgeni-uThukela Water Board and it is envisaged that it will usher in a new era in the way in which water is delivered in KwaZulu-Natal.

According to Mchunu, the board will comprise 11 or 12 members who will oversee operations.

"It will be done by the end of July. We will have a new board by then. We haven't interviewed people, but the processes are on. We don't know when they are advertising exactly, but they have received a directive from us to advertise for the new board under a new name," Mchunu said. 

In a gazette published in early November 2022, Mchunu called for comments over a two-month period.

The gazette proposed the extension of the Umgeni Water Board's jurisdiction to include Mhlathuze, creating a single water board.

Umgeni Water is responsible for the supply of drinking water to the eThekwini metro, Msunduzi Local Municipality, and uMgungundlovu, iLembe, Ugu, Harry Gwala and King Cetshwayo District Municipalities, and Mhlathuze Water covers an area from the uThukela River in the south, up the east coast to the Mozambique and Swaziland boundaries, around Vryheid and back to uThukela, according to the two entities' websites.

Collectively, the two authorities deliver water to more than 11-million people in KwaZulu-Natal. 

The two boards have been plagued by scandal and maladministration crises and in 2022, the SA Human Rights Commission held hearings on the water issues in KwaZulu-Natal. 

The minister detailed his vision for the new water board.

"The proposed name is Umgeni-uThukela Water board. It has a new name, new boundaries and a new footprint – the whole of KZN," he said.

Mchunu added that the new water board would deliver water to all of KwaZulu-Natal.

He wouldn't comment on the financial implications, but said a transaction advisor would inform them of all the financial details in due course.

Quizzed on the financial implications of the mega decision, he said: "One of the reasons we're taking this route is exactly on the economies of scale in relation to [having] two boards instead of one. What you're asking is going to come in terms of what liabilities [each] of these boards are coming with and their assets."

Asked whether he had already fired the existing board members, Mchunu said: "Not yet."

Pushed on whether unions were approached, he said there were wide consultations and that "there are no problems".

"We are not envisaging retrenchments. That's a matter that the transaction advisor is dealing with," he said.

"The new board won't double the number. It will have 11 or 12 members."

They were planning a workshop to decide on where the new entity would be headquartered, he added, but he warned people "not to expect big movements".

He said the move would save the entities money.

Edited by News24Wire




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