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Johannesburg - The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) is demanding toilets and tap water for all residents of KwaZulu-Natal because it says such a move would "improve health" and "protect people's safety and dignity". 

IFP KZN Spokesperson on Human Settlements, Thokozile Gumede, said, Denmark township residents near Imbali in Pietermaritzburg were using pit toilets. 

Gumede said when the pit latrines are full, "they flow like a raging river", which puts the lives of the residents at risk of contaminating diseases such as diarrhoea.

"We can avoid calamities such as cholera if people have access to clean and safe water," Gumede said.

"Sanitation is a cornerstone of public health and should be a priority. This is the time to make our people to have access to sanitation. 

"The rights to clean water and sanitation should not remain a dream for so many years. These rights as they are recognised in the South African Constitution must be real."

Gumede said the IFP believes that the first step to correcting the inadequacy of sanitation and safe water begins with acknowledging that the challenge is huge. 

Gumede also called for the "rethinking of strategies", and to identify "champions of change" both at the national, provincial and local levels.

The IFP spokesperson said without "dedicated budgets for sanitation, water and infrastructure", the constitutionally recognised rights to water and sanitation "will never materialise".

"Most people in rural areas practise open defecation and the combination of these unsanitary practices spreads disease and contaminate wells and streams which people use for drinking," said Gumede.

"The KZN provincial government sets aside increasingly larger amounts of money for water access and sanitation each year, but less than half of that money winds up being spent in that sector."

Gumede said the IFP wants KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala and MEC of Human Settlements Peggy Nkonyeni to provide toilets and tap water for residents of Denmark township and other communities in the province.

African News Agency (ANA)