The following comments were made by DA Eastern Cape Provincial Leader, Nqaba Bhanga MPL, during a press conference held in East London today. See attached soundbites in English and IsiXhosa by Nqaba Bhanga MPL. Also attached, is a soundbite in Afrikaans by Amathole District Municipality Council Member, Cllr Jean Lombard.
Residents of local municipalities serviced by the Amathole District Municipality (ADM) are facing a humanitarian crisis due to the unavailability of water to most parts of the district.
The situation in the ADM requires emergency intervention by the Premier of the Eastern Cape, Oscar Mbuyane, and the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Xolile Nqatha, and I have written to them in this regard:
- the Premier and MEC must respond to allegations of maladministration and address the conduct of the employees;
- an investigation must also be made into the qualifications and salary of the Municipal Manager and other senior officials in the municipality; and
- the Premier must immediately constitute a multi-party intervention team to investigate the ADM.
While these investigations commence, I call for the District Municipality to be declared bankrupt and dissolved to pave way for the election of a new council. The current council has failed dismally.
The lack of water has a catastrophic effect on the ability of hospitals, clinics, hostels, schools, factories, the hospitality trade and smaller businesses to operate optimally.
Many have closed their doors and the negative impact on the local economy is immense.
As a result of an illegal strike by municipal employees, which came into effect last week Wednesday, taps have run dry in 7 local municipalities including towns such as Butterworth, Peddie, Fort Beaufort, Bedford, Adelaide, Komga and Alice.
I have personally been informed of a primary school in Bedford that has closed its doors until next week Monday.
More than 50 rural villages in the district have been without water for weeks and are totally reliant on water trucks.
Desperate people across the district are now making use of unsafe water sources and this constitutes a health hazard.
The ADM’s inability to deal with the demands of striking employees is now depriving residents of their basic human rights to water, sanitation, a safe living environment and quality education.
My colleague in the ADM Municipal Council, Cllr Jean Lombard, has already reported the lack of water to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).
The ADM is rife with maladministration. It is unable to pay salaries and increments and contribute to the medical aid of employees.
Over the past 7 years senior management have undeservedly received salary increments, even though the ADM is bankrupt.
This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. The Premier has a choice to either continue burying his head in the sand while residents are exposed to potential disease outbreaks or he can take up my challenge to him and intervene directly to solve the crisis.
As ANC governanments crumble, it is showing more and more that only a DA government can eradicate corruption, speed up basic service delivery and protect the human rights and dignity. This is our offer to the people residing in the Amathole District Municipality.