Drought relief: Amatola Water Board chairperson Nokulunga Mnqetha must go

The residents of the Amathole District Municipality (ADM) continue to struggle because of the ongoing drought.  Despite promises by the Premier and confirmation from the MEC for Finance that a Water Services Infrastructure Grant of R119-million had been transferred to ADM in full, there is still no evidence of relief measures being implemented.  There has been no drilling for additional boreholes or attempts to de-silt dams.   For details about the transfer of funding, emanating from a question I asked Finance MEC Sakhumzi Somyo, click here: Reply to IQP 21 q 104 ADM drought relief

Those responsible for ensuring the utilization of the grant are the members of the Amatola Water Board (subs:  Amatola).  The MEC’s reply states that the Water Services Grant may be used for drought relief interventions.

There seems to be no urgency from the Amatola Water Board to address the issue of drought relief in ADM.  This is due to the dubious appointment of the Board’s chairperson, Nokulunga Mnqetha, who has a reputation for poor management and alleged fraudulent activities.

The fraud case against Ms Mnqetha was recently postponed to 26 March next year.  No board should be chaired by a person who has a dark cloud of allegations of fraud over their head if the government is serious about acting against corruption.

Ms Mnqetha was arrested by the Hawks in May 2016 on allegations that she defrauded ADM’s economic development agency, Aspire, of R310 000 to settle her private legal bill, while she was CEO of the agency.

Mnqetha allegedly incurred the bill to fend off misconduct charges brought against her by the former Aspire board of directors relating to her refusal to carry out a board instruction to pay wages to workers of the Emthonjeni Arts Retreat in Hamburg, which has now closed down.

She was also allegedly accused of failing to draft a performance plan aimed at uplifting and rescuing rural areas from poverty which was part of Aspire’s programme.  Additionally, the CEO position required candidates with a master’s degree in business management (MBA) or business leadership, (MBL) but allegedly  Mnqetha had qualifications in farming.

Last year, the entire Amathole District was held to ransom when Samwu workers at Amatola Water went on strike to demand that Mnqetha must go due to the fraud allegations against her.

I have written to the Minister of Water Affairs and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, as well as Premier Phumulo Masualle to remove Ms Mnqetha for the sake of service delivery to the people ADM.   I urge the minister to reconsider her stance that the charges are in no way related to Mnqetha’s work at the Amatola Water Board.

A DA-run province is governed according to the principles of freedom, fairness and opportunity.  We ensure that skilled and qualified civil servants are subjected to consequences for poor performance.

I will continue to fight for drought relief measures to be implemented in the ADM.  The people are thirsty for action. — Veliswa Mvenya MPL, Shadow MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform