The Democratic Alliance in uThukela District has lodged a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to urgently investigate water outages in the District that has brought a halt to service delivery and is posing a threat to the local economy.
This week the town of Ladysmith, including the Laverna Hospital, went for days without municipal water supply. Eventually the hospital’s reserve tanks of water ran out and the hospital had to function without any water other than limited and erratic deliveries in dilapidated tankers.
Bulk water supply was contracted to Umgeni Water, yet the taps still run dry on a daily basis. Uthukela District Municipality owes UMngeni Water hundred millions of rands. They are currently 20 months in arrears, at a monthly cost of R10 million. Even though the District is under administration, they have failed dismally to keep the District’s finances afloat. Poor leadership and political will are at the center of the District’s water woes.
It seems that the governing party just can’t come to grips with the provision of basic services for this region.
Our calls to the municipality to address the constant and erratic water outages have fallen on deaf ears.
In the interim many industries and businesses have been forced to pack up and leave, and with them many jobs that are so desperately needed in this impoverished area. The long term effects of this failure in Government will be felt for many years as the region gets trapped in a low growth poverty cycle.
Chapter 2 of the Constitution of South Africa provides that: “Everyone has the right to have access to sufficient food and water.” In order to give effect to this right Parliament has enacted the Water Services Act 108 of 1997. The purpose of this Act is to provide for the right to basic water supply and basic sanitation services. This Act recognises that the right of access to basic water supply and to basic sanitation services is necessary to ensure sufficient water and an environment that is not harmful to health or wellbeing of people and animals
The Water Services Act provides that:
- Everyone has a right of access to basic water supply and sanitation services;
- Every water services institution must take steps to realise these rights;
- Every municipality must plan in its water services development plan to realise these rights.
It is in this regard that we have written to the SAHRC. We trust that they will act swiftly and investigate, and assist the people of uThukela to live in dignity.
At the 2021 Local Government Elections (LGE), voters will also have the opportunity to turn this situation around at the ballot box, ensuring that the DA is elected to govern and correct the dismal situation created by the ANC. Where the DA governs it governs effectively.