SAHRC Water Report: Resources Must go Straight to Local Municipalities as Districts are a Hurdle to Basic Water Provision

ActionSA notes with great despair the water challenges that are faced by people throughout KwaZulu-Natal that were exposed by South African Human Rights (SAHRC) yesterday.

One of the key issues that were outlined by the SAHRC is the lack of accountability in performances by municipalities in giving effect to their constitutional obligations to bring access to clean running water to community members.

Not only this, but in cases where there have been deliberate human faults such as maladministration and corruption, there is seldom any consequence management- throughout all municipalities in the province who have effectively violated the rights to bring water to community members.

With over 600 complaints received by the SAHRC regarding lack of access to water, the Ugu District Municipality topped the list of complaints received, and with the ongoing water crisis at the municipality, we note this with no surprise.

While we can acknowledge the challenges faced by a number of communities that were marginalised during the Apartheid era, we believe that it is a blatant error for the current government and municipalities to blame Apartheid for the lack of adequate infrastructure 29 years into our democracy.

There has been adequate time for the government to build infrastructure that will cater for the growing South African population, instead of relying on those that were constructed during the Apartheid era.

Unfortunately, water scarcity has led to water tankers becoming a lucrative business for those who outsource their tankers to municipalities for the distribution of water in areas without.

Areas such as eThekwini, Amajuba and Msunduzi Municipalities have not prioritised the high levels of water leakage, theft and ageing infrastructure in an effort to prevent water losses.

Previously, the SAHRC summoned all District Municipalities before it, requesting additional information relating to the water report they had submitted to the Commission, but the eThekwini Municipality, Amajuba District Municipality, Zululand and uThukela failed to avail themselves to the Commission.

The greatest cause for concern is the fact that although South African faces a scarcity of water, we have the ability to source and distribute water to communities, however, officials lack the will to do their work, directly infringing on the basic right to access of water.

ActionSA believes that it is imperative that the link between provincial and local government be utilised in an effort to bring basic services to the people of our province.

Last week, ActionSA completed its policy conference, and we have reiterated on numerous occasions that bringing basic services to communities throughout our country who have been without due to the failures of the current government.

In our discussions, we took a resolution to do away with District Municipalities in order to address such key issues, and due to their constant failure to provide basic services to communities. Powers and funds will then be channelled to local municipalities, and allow them to provide all services, including water to the people, as District Municipalities have become burdensome.