KZN Provincial Government Blames eThekwini for Sewage Crisis, Labelling it Criminal

Yesterday, 6 February 2023, was the deadline for government departments and entities cited in ActionSA’s legal proceedings about the eThekwini Sewage Crisis to file their answering affidavits.

ActionSA expresses its anger on behalf of the residents of eThekwini that only the MEC of Economic Development bothered to file an answering affidavit by the deadline, while eThekwini Municipality, Mayor Kaunda, the KZN MEC for COGTA and various other provincial and national departments did not bother to meet this deadline. It is symptomatic of the complete disregard on display for this crisis and, particularly, by Mayor Kaunda whose lack of leadership has been central to this crisis.

Of great interest, however, is the answering affidavit from the KZN MEC of Economic Development who threw the eThekwini Municipality and Mayor Kaunda under the bus in his signed affidavit.

The MEC’s papers make a startling concession under oath, seemingly that the floods do not account for the sewage crisis in eThekwini. Their papers make reference to March 2021, where a joint site inspection was conducted which involved the municipality as well as the Department of Water and Sanitation, which refers to the municipality’s lack of compliance with environmental legislation, and pollution of residential homes. Their papers in fact refer to the conduct of the municipality as a “blatant disregard” as well as a criminal offence in terms of the National Environment Management Act (NEMA).

The papers of the MEC for Economic Development are a litany of attacks on the municipality, blame shifting and a seemingly endless barrage of tales about how many criminal charges they have laid against the municipality. One would scarcely believe that both the MEC for Economic Development and the eThekwini Mayor belong to the same political party. The MEC has washed their hands clean of the crisis and has left the Mayor out to dry.

A variety of statements are made throughout the answering affidavit – including that the municipality has failed to discharge its duty of care, has contravened NEMA, and has failed in its Constitutional obligations for which the Provincial Government itself has laid numerous criminal charges.

In producing this response, the MEC of Economic Development has placed the KZN Provincial Government as the most important backer of ActionSA’s legal action against the eThekwini Metro. ActionSA appreciates the honesty of the KZN MEC of Economic Development in speaking the truth and being willing to do so against the interests of his ANC colleagues in eThekwini.

Our legal team has granted an extension to all of the remaining parties to file their answering affidavits by this Friday 10 February 2023. If this deadline is not met, ActionSA will initiate steps to see that the High Court orders default judgement against the eThekwini Metro, Mayor Kaunda and the other government departments cited in our papers.

ActionSA’s legal action is an essential step to both holding the eThekwini Metro to account as well as forcing the municipality to solve the sewage crisis that has seen many communities impacted along with the collapse of local tourism over the festive season. We will not back down until such time as the Constitutional rights of the residents of eThekwini have been protected against a municipality that has proven incapable and uncaring.