Water quality is not a Tshwane issue, it is a national crisis

Issued by Leon Basson MP – DA Shadow Minister of Water and Sanitation
23 May 2023 in News

It has become clear in the last 24 hours that the current cholera outbreak is not exclusively a Tshwane issue, but that we are facing a possible national cholera outbreak.

Incidences of cholera have also been reported in the Free State and Limpopo, confirming that the outbreak in Tshwane is not the result of a lapse of service delivery from a municipality that has been in government for two months. It is the result of years and years of national government neglect and previous local government regimes who bankrupted Metros to the point of almost having to be placed under administration.

Fikile Mbalula, and the ANC, are deliberately trying to mislead the public with propaganda on how this crisis is directly linked to the DA-led multi-party coalition in Tshwane, carefully ignoring the history of their own neglect.

This cannot be more clearly evidenced than a parliamentary reply from the Minister of Water and Sanitation this month that revealed that water infrastructure backlogs will cost R89.9 billion per annum over 10 years, with 3 698 074 kilolitres of water lost every single day due to infrastructure failure and leakages. This costs South Africa R250 million every single year.

In 2014, the 2014 Green Drop report (the latest one available) revealed that 84% of the 824 wastewater treatment plants in the country are discharging 4200 million litres of untreated or inadequately treated sewerage illegally into 82% of our rivers every day. This is staggering. And given this situation, the current outbreak was in effect inevitable.

There have been a few more cases of cholera-like outbreaks in other municipalities and other provinces which proves that poor water quality and sanitation is not a Tshwane only problem, but one that is affecting the entire country and if national government does not come in to assist municipalities with upgrading water infrastructure, many more lives will be lost around South Africa.

The DA calls on national government, and the ANC in Gauteng, to stop cheap politicking and rather urgently devise a plan for a complete overhaul of the country’s water infrastructure, to prevent future outbreaks such as we currently see.

The DA furthermore calls on Minister Mchunu to co-operate with the City of Tshwane and the private sector to explore all options to upgrade the Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant. The completion of stage 2 of the upgrades, will cost the City a staggering R2.5 billion – the City’s entire capital budget.

It is now more important than ever for the national government to work together with the Tshwane administration and urgently finalize these upgrades.