Pretoria - Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu has apologised to the residents of Tshwane for the ongoing water supply problems.
His department, with the City of Tshwane and Rand Water, has been grappling with water woes for months while blaming one another.
Mchunu and his two deputies, David Mahlobo and Judith Tshabalala, have been visiting numerous communities across Gauteng to address the water shortages that have hit Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and recently Johannesburg.
Mchunu’s contingent descended on the capital city on Wednesday, visiting Soshanguve and Waterkloof to listen to the public’s complaints.
Only a handful of residents attended the community meeting at Waterkloof’s NG Kerk on Wednesday afternoon. However, Mchunu apologised for the water challenges he was confronted with.
“We know that from time to time problems do occur. But because of the problem that we have experienced recently, we decided to meet the people in Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.
“This is to say firstly we apologise to you as citizens of this area and of Tshwane in general for the hitches that you have experienced in terms of water cuts.
“We really apologise … our intention is to stop water cuts to the best of our ability,” he said.
Following his apology, Mchunu also vowed that the technical team he had put together comprising his department, Rand Water and the municipality would “work harder” to fix the problem.
“So first we apologise and the second thing is an undertaking that we will work harder. Our technical teams must work together so that there are no blame games where Tshwane officials start making statements that it’s the fault of Rand Water and the other way around.
“We are working well together as the department and the municipalities in Gauteng as in their capacity as water service authorities, but there are challenges here and there sometimes.”
Mchunu said the technical team had turned things around and promised residents that the department would overcome the water problem.
Earlier in Soshanguve on the same day, Mahlobo, who spoke on behalf of Mchunu after he was summoned by President Cyril Ramaphosa to an urgent meeting, said Tshwane’s water woes were the result of the level of water consumption.
“Water consumption here (Tshwane) is beyond what it is licensed to do and they need to be in a position to deal with the issue of high levels of consumption,” Mahlobo told angry Soshanguve residents.
Ward 82 councillor in the Waterkloof area, Siobhan Muller, called for swift action from Rand Water CEO Sipho Mosai or be fired.
She said the ward she was presiding over struggled weekly with water cuts.
“Rand Water does not inform us when there is a crisis, so we only find out when the reservoirs have run dry or they (Rand Water) pump five bars instead of eight bars, so you cannot pump water into a reservoir at the wrong pressure because it does not work.
“We are here to say the CEO must get his act together or go,” she said.
Muller also laid the blame on Mchunu, saying that he could be doing more.
“I can't say if the minister is doing enough, but in general our ministers in this country do very little. We have 30 of them that earn big salaries.
“We have got far too many ministers, too many deputy ministers. Too many staff. Too many blue light brigades that come rolling around here wasting a lot of the country’s money whilst we haven’t bought reservoirs and we haven’t built new plants to purify water,” Muller said.