Makana Municipality released a statement today following the recent public announcement by Gift of the Givers regarding their interventions in Makhanda (Grahamstown) and surrounding areas and their intention to withdraw from the city.
“We wish to reassure the public that engagement with the Gift of the Givers is ongoing, with discussions taking place on an almost daily basis in an attempt to find a resolution on the issues. Their announcement was made in the midst of those discussions and is, we believe, unfortunate in that the statement seems to be an attempt to influence those discussions and, further, is contrary to the positive spirit of engagement we’ve enjoyed with Gift of the Givers to date,” The Makana communications office said.
The municipality said some of what Gift of the Givers had said needs to be corrected.
Makana provided this timeline:
- “On request from the municipality, Gift of the Givers arrived in Makana on February 12 to assist with emergency relief to the water shortages in the city. This intervention was greatly appreciated by the residents of the city and the municipality – the intervention ensured that residents were provided with clean, safe, drinkable water in a time of crisis, and for that we are extremely thankful and have, on a number of occasions, expressed those thanks publicly.
- “During their visit Gift of the Givers also began implementing longer term solutions by drilling boreholes at key sites around the city. Gift of the Givers are quite correct to say that they did so of their own accord and no guarantees were given by Makana Municipality about reimbursement or funding. The fact of the matter is, at the time, we were awaiting clarity from the national Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) around the status of our appeal for drought relief and we were unsure in what form and to what extent such relief might come. We played open cards with Gift of the Givers and all parties went into the project with their eyes wide open – the priority was providing relief to the residents of Makana.
- “An important piece of additional context is missing from the Gift of the Givers’ public narrative:
- In October 2018 the DWS informed us that they would assist drought relief efforts by funding the drilling of boreholes.
- As is necessary and appropriate, and in line with the Municipal Finance Management Act and the conditions of the grant, a proper process was followed in appointing a consultant as the first step. The consultant will complete an underground water study and register the boreholes already drilled. The tender was awarded following a proper and lawful tender process, to undertake the necessary environmental impact studies and assessment of the aquifer to determine the viability, scale and scope of drilling boreholes.
- Before the release of the grant, Gift of the Givers arrived in Makana and commenced drilling boreholes based on their own assessment of the situation.
- DWS has since informed us, and we agree, that in terms of the relevant legislation and standard government processes, proper regulations must be followed in considering any funding to Gift of the Givers. We need to follow these processes so that we do not flout supply chain regulations and give rise to audit queries.
- The municipality is considering appointing a service provider through the correct SCM [supply chain management] regulations to connect the Waainek boreholes to the Waainek Water Works as it is crucial to augment the water supply to Makhanda West. This is where serious intervention is needed as a result of the drought.
- “The above context has been explained to Gift of the Givers and Makana Municipality has, on a number of occasions, engaged Gift of the Givers around possible solutions and to find another funding mechanism whereby they can be compensated for the work they have done in the city, cognisant of the fact that their work was undertaken entirely “on risk” by themselves and without the same thorough and rigorous due diligence that we required of an outside contractor. We agreed to this deviation on the basis of the immediate and pressing need being experienced by the city, but at the same time need to ensure that we exercise fairness and diligence in the awarding of tenders and the spending of public money.
- “We will continue to engage with Gift of the Givers to find a path through the current impasse. Meetings have been held with them this week, and it is our hope that they will continue to be held in good faith while we find a solution within the rules and guidelines of National Treasury. At the same time we need to allow the consultant the space to fulfill their contractual obligations to the city, and to honour the terms of the agreement with them.
“We hope that the current situation will be resolved in the best interests of the people of Makana, on whose behalf we act, and in a way that ensures that Gift of the Givers are compensated for their effort, expertise and care in our time of need.”