'We have a plan': Sisulu says her department is on top of water crisis
Cape Town - Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has told Parliament that her department is on top of South Africa's water crisis.
“We want to assure the House that we have spent time putting together a response to our problem. The situation is dire but we have a plan,” Sisulu said during a debate on the State Of the Nation Address on Thursday.
She said there was a national water and sanitation master plan and that they were emboldened that they were in the right direction.
“It is a call to action to raise awareness. It is intended to guide the water sector with investment planning over an initial period of 15 years and beyond,” Sisulu added.
She also said it was preparing the society to better manage water shortage and address dysfunctionality.
Sisulu added that alongside taking master plan through necessary processes, they have put in place immediate interventions on drought relief to those areas that were affected.
“We extended support to municipalities that have been affected.”
She said the climate change which was compounded by the growing population and changing economic activities made planning for long term water management more difficult.
The minister noted that her travelling to water scarcity hotspots developed appreciation of the extent to challenges in the water sector.
“We have found where communities come together as one to solve problems, we have had good successes. In areas where there was political opportunism and coupled with aggressive approach to business opportunities, we have had problems.”
She, however, said they could not continue as though it was business as usual with water.
“We need a collective response,” the minister said.
Sisulu thanked President Cyril Ramaphosa for including the Umzimvubu water scheme as part of this SONA speech last Thursday.
“We now have this project in the pipeline and we do know there has been a lot of skepticism in this chamber about whether or not we are to pull it off,” Sisulu said.
She said they have started on the first phase of the project and they remained optimistic.
“Out of the hydro-power we produce we could get the whole of Estern Cape out of Eskom grid. That will be a great relief for Minister Mantashe,” she said.
Sisulu also said her department had made progress in terms of issuing water licences within 90 days as opposed to three years.
“I have decided that we will establish a water licencing entity within the department to ensure we live to our promise and allow new entrants, especially black farmers, to have easier access to water rights,” she said.
Sisulu also said her department was mindful of the fact that there were a number of investigations underway in the department that were conducted by the SIU and Zondo Commission.
“We have committed our full support to the investigations and we are prioritising the resulting disciplinary process,” she said.