Premier Sihle Zikalala holds the most powerful position in Kwazulu-Natal’s provincial government.
But residents in Ndwedwe, north of Durban, the village where he grew up and his political career took off, have seen little benefit.
They continue to live in poverty and compete with livestock for dirty water.
While residents fetch water to cook, wash and bathe, cows and goats wait their turn to quench their thirst from the same source.
The destitute community complains that this has led to many people including children getting sick.
Simthandile Mkhize, 49, said: “For the past eight years I have been cooking with stinking water.
“We have no option but to share the water with goats and cows. This is really painful for us and no one seems to care.”
Simthandile said the dirty water they draw from a nearby stream has a stomach-turning stench.
“My house stinks because of the water. My clothes are even worse. When I cook I first boil the water to kill the smell. Sadly, this is our lives. We have to eat and wear clothes regardless of the smell,” said Mkhize.
The residents told Scrolla.Africa that their problems started in 2012 when the government cut the supply of clean water, leaving their taps dry.
“No one told us why our water supply was being stopped. We were only told that water tankers would come every week. But sometimes these trucks don’t come at all,” said another resident Zibonele Ngcobo.
He said they approached the provincial government and the local municipality, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
“Someone must intervene and solve this mess,” said Ngcobo. “Or maybe they’re waiting for someone to die first before they act,” said Ngcobo.
Thulani Msomi said, “Who knew that 26 years after democracy people would still be drinking water with cows and goats. This is an indictment of the ANC government.”
Lennox Mabaso, a provincial government spokesperson said government is fast-tracking basic services such as water and housing.
“Ndwedwe is among the areas the government has put as a priority to have the problem sorted,” said Mabaso