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Stellenbosch - The Madibeng municipality in the North West, which has been hit by recent protests over water shortages, is dysfunctional, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel said on Monday.
“I'm saying what my observation is, is that the local authority is dysfunctional. It doesn't understand that if you lay the pipes you must get water to people. It fails to understand what its core mandate is,” he said.
“The developmental side and the capability side have been brought into very sharp question in that metro.”
He was speaking at Stellenbosch University's Theological Day, where he gave an address on the function of the National Development Plan (NDP).
He said the NDP required both a developmental state and a capable state.
In the context of Madibeng, the developmental side had been upheld in that the bulk water supply, the pump stations and the purification plant were in place.
Manuel said the bill of rights had been upheld in that people had access to free, basic water within a limited distance from their house. These rights were entrenched in law and money had consequently been spent on the relevant infrastructure.
“The capability side is a slightly different question. It ensures that H2O (water) flows through the taps... and when you open it, it's available in your house.
“In the instance of the 1/8Madibeng 3/8 mayor and the chief whip and so on... it seems as though either they didn't know that three pumps... were out of order or they were beneficiaries of the water tankers that were running where the pumps weren't working.”
Manuel said a society with that reality meant every part of the social compact was broken.
“I'm saying you can't be a little bit corrupt,” he said, in reference to an earlier remark of not being able to a be “a little bit pregnant”.
Three people died and one was fatally wounded on January 13, during protests about water services in Mothutlung in the province.
Two of them were shot, allegedly by the police, a third died in a fall from a moving police vehicle, while the fourth, who was shot in the head, died in hospital. Fourteen police officers were facing disciplinary action.
Residents had shown reporters brown-coloured water from the tap and said the municipality was failing to fulfil its promises.
North West premier Thandi Modise subsequently asked residents to give its R2 billion water project a chance before staging violent protests.
The plan includes bulk infrastructure upgrades and borehole refurbishments to meet the basic demand of 60 litres of water per person per day.
Manuel said there could only be a different reality in the metro if there was active citizenship and leadership. He accused South Africans of outsourcing responsibility and said politicians were not the solution to the country's problems.
“Don't look at me and say because you earn your money from politics you are the solution. I am not the solution. I think we need to engage with these issues very differently.
“I'm asking that people in-source responsibility. Don't wait until elections and say 'well I've voted now, let's see what they do'. That's not democracy.”
He said the focus was not on the Cabinet or an individual in the presidency, but how every citizen was required to be responsible.
The NDP was an invitation to active citizenship and leadership which would repair an eroded social compact.
“It's not a plan of government or for government. It's a plan for all of us.”