Pretoria - Tshwane mayor Randall Williams has refused to participate in the commission of inquiry into the Hammanskraal water woes, describing it as a political stunt.
The commission is the brainchild of Herman Mashaba’s Action SA party and had intended to question the City of Tshwane and its contractors on the Rooiwal Water Treatment Plant upgrade.
The Pretoria News has seen an invitation from Action SA to the mayor and the City’s chief of staff, Jordan Griffiths, to make themselves available to an independent panel to be chaired by Professor Jonas Letsoalo, an admitted advocate of the Supreme Court since 1981.
The commission asked Williams to present himself on one of the three days of hearings between April 16, 17 and 18 “to give an account as to what steps have been taken to resolve this long, outstanding problem that remains in violation of the people of Hammanskraal’s rights”.
Williams told Pretoria News that he did not have time for the political stunts of Mashaba and another Action SA official, Abel Tau, a former Tshwane MMC and acting mayor.
He said the City was already working hard to refurbish the plant and an investigation was done by the South African Human Rights Commission and other formal government bodies which had made recommendations that were being implemented to better the lives of the people of Hammanskraal.
He said: “If you look at it, the person that is part of Action SA, Tau, used to be the MMC for utility services. The question is what did he do while he was the MMC? That is the inquiry they should do. They should have an internal inquiry into what their member has done to assist the people of Hammanskraal. So no, I am not prepared to participate in a political stunt, but I am addressing the real issues and I am concerned about the well-being of the people of Hammanskraal. We are going to fast-track that programme as quickly as possible so that we finally resolve the water problems that have been facing the people of Hammanskraal since 2004. No one has addressed it since 2004 and we are the first to address it, so that people in Hammanskraal can have clean water.”
The commission, however, informed Williams and Griffiths that the water remained contaminated and was thus a violation of the Constitution.
Mashaba said: “Whether the mayor of Tshwane elects to be accountable to the residents of Hammanskraal and engage in this process is entirely up to him, but any refusal to show up would be another effort to duck the issue in a long line of mayors who have done so since 2016.
“The Hammanskraal water issue has been in existence for nearly two decades now, and over the years, it has got worse, with no signs of improving. Public interest in the matter peaked in 2017 after the 2016 election campaign produced many promises to the residents of Tshwane and Rooiwal but resulted in no action.”
The City announced that a project that would cost billions to revamp the plant was under way.
SA Human Rights Commission provincial manager Buang Jones said they, too, would not participate in the inquiry because they did their own investigation and were preparing to release a comprehensive report on the state of water-related infrastructure and rivers in Tshwane as a whole.