Replies to Democratic Alliance parliamentary questions reveal that former North West Premier and now Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, was aware of a potential water crisis within Mothutlung and the Madibeng Local Municipality, as early as 2009, but did nothing to stop it.
Replies to parliamentary questions from 2010 prove that Minister Molewa knew that:
- Water testing within the municipality was not being conducted on a regular basis, thus satisfactory levels of clean drinking water in the area were not being provided;
- There was excessive debt (R 36 282 867) owed by the Madibeng Municipality to the Magalies Water Board;
- Mothutlung had only scored 64% against compliance requirements prescribed by her department.
Despite her knowledge of these shortcomings both in her capacity as Premier of the North West and Minister of Water Affairs, Edna Molewa did nothing.
The DA has already requested that the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) investigate the failure to ensure water supply to Madibeng municipality.
South Africa’s water infrastructure has been in a state of crisis for years, particularly in rural provinces such as the North West, Mpumalanga and the Free State.
At the heart of the problem is the failure of local government and municipalities to properly maintain their water infrastructure, due to poor (financial) management, corruption and an apparent lack of will.
Last year the Water Research Commission (WRC) even revealed that almost 40% of South Africa’s municipal water is lost before it reaches municipal customers points – a damning indictment of the department and ANC government’s service delivery capabilities.
It is crucial that the Department of Environmental and Water Affairs develop sufficient reliability indicators in order to adequately monitor accessibility and respond when or wherever there is a lack.
Water is South Africa’s most precious commodity and no more lives and time can be wasted in finding a solution.