AfriForum and DWS meets over water crisis

Dept says ineffective municipal management a direct reason for water shortage, appoints task team to monitor situation

AfriForum and DWS meets over water crisis

22 July 2016 

AfriForum met with the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) on 20 July 2016 to discuss the serious drought crisis that continues in the Free State. 

This follows after AfriForum has already placed the Department on terms in June 2016 to provide AfriForum with its action plan to address the water crisis in two Free State towns by no later than 19 June 2016. The DWS has since failed to do much about addressing the crisis. By contrast, AfriForum has launched various self-do initiatives to bring relieve to the communities that are affected by the drought. 

Ndileka Mohapi, Director: Strategic Support, said at the meeting that the El Niño phenomenon remained the cause of the current widespread drought and that the DWS did not have a drought fund to assist these areas. The Department was also of the opinion that ineffective municipal management was another direct reason for the water shortage in Free State towns and therefor appointed an interministerial task team to monitor the drought on a national level and put in place strategies to provide relief to areas who suffer from the water crisis. The task team comprises representatives from the DWS, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) and the National Disaster Management Centre.  

According to Charles Castle, Legal and Risk Coordinator for AfriForum, the organisation proposed a cooperative agreement with the DWS, which was received positively. The agreement will be formalised at a follow-up meeting on the water crisis.

Castle adds that the DWS cannot be held directly responsible for the water crisis in terms of legislation, but that responsibility falls within the competence and framework of the CoGTA and local municipalities. The DWS may only intervene when an area is proclaimed a disaster area, or if they receive a request by the CoGTA. For this reason, the CoGTA also forms part of the interministerial task team. 

“Communities should have more authority over resources in their respective municipal areas. In this way, it is ensured that necessary maintenance indeed happens and resources do not collapse as a result of ignorance or tender fraud,” Castle concludes. 

Issued by Charles Castle, Legal and Risk Coordinator, AfriForum, 22 July 2016