As things stand, the government cannot be forced to provide water to poor communities despite court judgments that are in favour of the communities, says the writer. File photo: Dumisani Dube
As things stand, the government cannot be forced to provide water to poor communities despite court judgments that are in favour of the communities, says the writer. File photo: Dumisani Dube

OPINION: SA’s water problems worsened by corruption and poor management

By Time of article published Sep 30, 2020

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By Kenneth Moeng Mokgatlhe

Access to clean, drinkable water is a constitutional and human right for every human being in South Africa. However, the right is rendered useless as it does not lay down the means to carry out that right and how the government ensures that everyone has sufficient food or water. This is why the government should be forced to provide water and food to the people.

The Unemployed People’s Movement successfully took the Makana municipality to the Grahamstown High Court where the municipality was instructed to be dissolved, following its failure to provide basic services, including clean water, to residents.

South Africa is generally a dry country – we are the 30th driest country in the world. However, that is no excuse for our government to deny citizens their right to water and sanitation.

While we acknowledge that we are a dry nation, we should also bear in mind that the problems in the water sector are exacerbated by corruption and poor management which results in taps running dry and many people losing their jobs inside and outside the sector. We should remember that many businesses are gravely affected.

Corruption in the sector does not only affect the department, it also affects the health of the general public especially children, pensioners and people living with disabilities, as they have no alternative but to drink unsafe water. We should force the government to take full responsibility by ensuring that water is always available to the people.

South Africa suffers from not just one form of load shedding but three – power shedding, water shedding and job shedding. We are in the middle of a crisis, a crisis that cannot be blamed on the coronavirus pandemic. The government has been battling to arrest corruption from as early as 1994. It is out of control as we see officials stealing money meant to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus. Their consciences have been buried.

As things stand, the government cannot be forced to provide water to poor communities despite court judgments that are in favour of the communities or the findings by the toothless SA Human Rights Commission. How many recommendations have been made by the SAHRC against the government to provide water to the poor communities of Hammanskraal or Mokgola village?

The situation is not getting any better. Vultures are capitalising on every catastrophe the country faces. There are never punitive measures imposed against them because they are “leadership” and, therefore, untouchable.

One does not need to be a rocket scientist or sangoma to know that the Department of Water and Sanitation has been ridden with corrupt activities. Nothing has happened against those who have committed such heinous acts. We know that there was manipulation of procurement and operational processes and incompetent people are being appointed to further the corrupt activities. There have been reports that companies are paying bribes to get businesses. At times, politicians are benefiting from the graft.

It is clear that lack of water is not as a result of drought but of corruption. The government should be forced to provide water to communities, and corruption should be a no-go-area.

The government should ensure we save water by repairing all leaks and maintaining infrastructure. Residents should continue to use water sparingly so that we never see Day Zero.

Kenneth Moeng Mokgatlhe is a One SA activist.

The Star

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