Sewage flows from the Rietspruit River into the Vaal Dam. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso/African News Agency(ANA)
Sewage flows from the Rietspruit River into the Vaal Dam. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso/African News Agency(ANA)

’Please let Sisulu clean up, Mr President’

By Zainul Dawood Time of article published Apr 14, 2021

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DURBAN - A GROUP of business forums were concerned that the change of portfolio for the Minister of Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu could jeopardise the water supply to the Greater Vaal Region.

The Golden Triangle Chamber of Commerce, the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc) and Sedibeng Business Forum, as a collective of business chambers, and representing business in townships and towns within the Greater Vaal region, wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday.

Golden Triangle chamber vice-president Klippies Kritzinger said they had a major concern that Sisulu could shortly be removed from her position.

“This is of great concern to us since our whole economy is being held to ransom with billions of rand worth of projects on hold due to the inadequate and dysfunctional wastewater infrastructure within Emfuleni. This situation has rapidly escalated in deterioration over the past decade,” Kritzinger said.

He said they had many attempts at rectifying this including using service providers such as Rand Water, the SA National Defence Force and Ekurhuleni Water Care Company (Erwat). All of these attempts, Kritzinger said, were under the direction of previous ministers.

“In less than two years, Minister Sisulu has engaged with the area as no other minister has done before. She has a clear pathway which we totally believe and trust to finally unlock the billions of rand worth of private investments on hold, by finally addressing the wastewater problems,” Kritzinger said.

“We are currently at a critical time where this intervention headed by Minister Sisulu is about to happen. She and Deputy President David Mabuza visited us recently to assess the total collapse of our infrastructure. If she is removed, we will be back to square one.

“This will have a huge impact on the election later this year for the governing party,” Kritzinger said.

In the letter, Kritzinger pleaded: “Mr President, do not do this to our region. We have one of the highest rates of unemployment in SA. If the sanitation issues can just be sorted out then the private investments can go ahead and thousands of jobs can be created.”

An automatic reply to his email read: “Acknowledge with thanks, receipt of your correspondence addressed to the president of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa. Presidency spokesperson Tyron Seale.”

On Monday, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) said it would appoint 18 contractors to unblock sewer systems that flow into the Vaal River. This would accelerate the “protracted” seepage of raw sewage into the river and local households in Emfuleni Local Municipality.

The department believed that this intervention was “necessitated” by the lack of operations and maintenance of wastewater infrastructure at the local government level, resulting in infrastructure failure.

Sisulu’s reputation has grown in leaps and bounds. Last week, Independent Media reported that some of the biggest ANC regions in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga (Ehlanzeni), Limpopo (Vhembe) and Gauteng (Sedibeng and Tshwane) have joined their counterparts in requesting Sisulu contest for the presidency of the ANC and subsequently for South Africa.

The 55th ANC National Elective Conference takes place in December next year.

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