The Department of Water and Sanitation has disputed Gift of the Givers claims that the foundation will be compensated for drought relief interventions done in Makhanda.
It comes after mayor of the town’s Makhanda local municipality Mzukisi Mpahlwa requested assistance from both national and provincial government in January, to avoid having it’s taps run dry.
Founder of the Gift of the Givers Foundation Dr Imtiaz Sooliman said they stepped in because the drought is at a crisis level.
“The (water situation) is critical. That’s why the whole city is up in arms. We are only delivering water by tank at the moment. That’s part of the problem- you’re putting a band aid on a big bruise. We need to fix the whole problem, that’s why we drilled the fifteen boreholes.”
Sooliman said his organisation spent a total of R15mil rand in Makhanda where 15 boreholes were drilled, two filtration systems installed (to the tune of R750 000 each), R5mil worth of bottled water taken to the people and tankers taken to the people every day.”
He said there is still much work that needs to be done.
“We still need to put earth works, electrical connections, borehole pumps, special PVC into the boreholes themselves.”
He explained however why the organisation suddenly withdrew on Wednesday.
“They said they are preparing to have it declared a disaster area, they will get emergency funds and out of the emergency funds they will pay us. In March it was declared a disaster area and a unanimous decision was taken. In the meeting, the councillor said the moment the money comes it will come to us. From then till now, there’s been no movement whatsoever.”
Sooliman emphasized that it was not necessary for the department to step in.
“In their own statement the department (said) it is a decision to be made by the municipality, not by them. They say they funded the municipality R22m but the municipality (says) they don’t know anything about any money coming to them.”
Department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau echoed the founders sentiment and said the buck ultimately stops with the Makanda Municipality as his department is not allowed to give funds to private entities.
“That discussion around approval, we were not part of that. It is a council decision that talks to the work of the Gift of the Givers. Those are two very capable parties to be able to deal with that issue at that level.”
Sooliman noted that the foundation was informed that funds made available by government will be directed to local companies.
“Two days ago, the Water and Sanitation Department came to us and said that the funding wasn’t coming to us. They said R10m is being made available, but that money cannot come to us. It will go to three (local) companies from Grahamstown.”
Ratau noted that the department providing the money would not be ethical.
“That would be interference and would be in contrast to the separation of powers.”
The founder added that if they are compensated the job will be finished but he highlighted that they have other obligations.
“We will finish the job if they make good on their promise, (but) we can’t go on paying endlessly with no remuneration. We’ve got other projects that are suffering because of our involvement in Makhanda.”
He went on to express concern for the state of Makanda and urged government to play ball.
“We sent our thoughts and our prayers to Makhanda. We feel very sad to leave the place, we can fix the problem in ten days. The government needs to come to the party. Now there is no intervention, and nobody knows what to do. Someone needs to take a very serious decision so we can get these courses going.