Johannesburg Water Shedding A Product of Bad Priorities

Recent news that Johannesburg residents will experience water shedding in addition to load shedding, despite the Vaal Dam overflowing, is an indictment on the infrastructure renewal programme of the City of Johannesburg.

During the term of the multi-party coalition government I led in Johannesburg, a massive infrastructure investment programme began the reversal of the collapse of the water network.

This need arose from inheriting a City that was losing 45% of its water through losses, more than 700 billion litres of water at a time when the Vaal dam went under 30% capacity.

In just 3 years, record levels of investment in Joburg Water saw over 200km of the City’s oldest water pipes being replaced. The result of this investment was the first recorded decline in water losses, leaks and bursts in Johannesburg’s recent history, declining from 45 000 per year to under 37 000.

It was not complicated to arrest the decline, just the necessary need to invest in the renewal of old infrastructure at a rate faster than it was declining.

Instead of continuing this kind of prioritising of infrastructure investment, Geoff Makhubo’s government has chosen to ‘invest’ over R400 million in the expansion of political staffing structures in the City. This would, in all likelihood, mean that more is being spent on political staff than on the renewal of leaking water pipes in Johannesburg.

Rather than a reliable supply of water for the residents and businesses of Johannesburg, we are left to find comfort in the idea that Geoff Makhubo and his MMCs are inflating their staffing structures in order to satisfy cadre deployment backlogs from their time in opposition and to secure the loyalty of their ‘coalition partners’.

There is no redemption of a government led by a Mayor who is implicated in state capture. Such a government would see no problem in spending more on the salaries of their political staff then on preventing the water shedding of millions of Johannesburg residents.

The only solution that lies with the residents of the South of Johannesburg, Soweto, Roodepoort and surrounding communities, lies in removing this government and replacing it with one that stops corruption and starts delivery. 

ActionSA wants to promise residents of the City of Johannesburg that these illegal and costly Cadre appointments will be reviewed, and appropriate legal action taken to correct this once ANC is removed from our Municipality, including embarking on the skills audit to ensure that we urgently create a Professional Public Service that serves the residents, not ANC.