Let’s “make a plan” to rescue KwaZulu-Natal from spiralling water crisis

Issued by John Steenhuisen MP – Leader of the Democratic Alliance
20 Jan 2024 in News

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered by the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen, in Durban today.  

  • eThekwini is on stage 16 water-shedding.
  • DA Leader John Steenhuisen to lay South African Human Rights Commission complaint against eThekwini Municipality for violating the constitutional right of access to water.
  • Steenhuisen set to embark on a nationwide campaign against the spiralling water crisis created by the ANC.

South Africans have gotten used to living without things that are taken for granted in other democracies.

We have gotten used to living without a government that cares about us, and that values the taxes we pay.

We have gotten used to living without critical services, reliable public transport, or safe roads.

We have gotten used to living without a police service to keep us safe.

We have gotten used to living without job opportunities, without good schools, and without working hospitals.

Most recently, we have even been forced to get used to living without reliable electricity.

While the things we have lost under the ANC would cause riots and revolution in other countries, we instead adopted the most South African attitude of all: we made a plan.

For each of these things that the ANC destroyed, we made a plan.

Those who could afford it, made a plan to move to gated estates, and to pay for private security and medical aid.

Those who could afford it, installed solar electricity and sent their children to private schools.

Of course, the vast majority of South Africans cannot afford these private solutions.

But the poorest members of our communities also made a plan.

They made a plan to create stokvels that fund emergency medical expenses and school fees.

They made a plan to use minibus taxis after the trains stopped running.

They made a plan to create community policing forums and neighbourhood watches when the police stopped coming.

There is a uniquely South African resilience reflected in the phrase “make a plan.”

And we can be proud of it.

But it’s also time to face up to the other side of this coin: for decades, the ANC has cynically exploited the resilience of South Africans for political gain.

Among the many empty things that you will hear Cyril Ramaphosa say, is his claim that South Africans are “resilient.”

Let me tell you today: he does not mean it as a compliment.

When the ANC praises the “resilience” of South Africans, they are actually laughing at you.

They are laughing because they know that you will “make a plan” to simply work around their failures.

The ANC have convinced themselves that South Africans will never hold them accountable for everything that they have taken away from us.

But I am here today with an urgent warning.

There is one thing that the ANC is busy taking away from the people of eThekwini, of KwaZulu-Natal, and of the whole of South Africa.

This is something that we will not be able to live without.

It is something that we cannot just work around.

This latest thing that the ANC is busy taking away from you right now, is water.

We all know that water is life.

It is the one substance without which no living creature can survive.

Without clean water, we cannot grow food.

Without clean water, we cannot wash or stay healthy.

Without clean water to drink, every single person here will die.

Without reliable sewerage systems, illness spreads and life becomes unbearable.

It does not matter if you are rich or poor, black, white, Indian or coloured, whether you live in a township, on a farm or in a suburb.

Without clean water, you will die.

By taking away your access to water, the ANC is directly threatening your life and the lives of your family members.

This latest crisis created by the ANC could not be more urgent.

A human being can stay alive without many of the things the ANC has destroyed.

It may not be a life truly worth living, but it is technically possible for you to remain alive without most other basic services.

But it is not possible without clean water.

Here in eThekwini, the ANC water crisis is not theoretical.

Under the ANC, eThekwini is already on stage 16 water-shedding.

The community of Bester, in KwaMashu, has not had piped water for 14 years.

It has made life in Bester a living hell, where elderly people are forced to spend their meagre SASSA pensions for people to carry water to their homes.

Instead of fixing infrastructure, the eThekwini municipality has handed out tenders for water tankers that often don’t arrive, putting at risk the lives of infants, the elderly, and the sick.

The use of contaminated water tankers and containers to transport water into the community can cause serious illness or even death.

And it’s not only Bester.

The residents of Tongaat have not had water for 90 days.

In Phoenix, residents protest daily because there is no water, and only one or two water are allocated to wards with twenty thousand residents.

In Durban North, one hundred thousand people went without water for weeks on end last year, dealing another painful blow to the tourism sector.

It’s also not only about drinking water.

This past December, the beaches of Durban were empty.

I remember growing up in this city when it was the premier tourist destination in South Africa.

Now, you are more likely to find human faecal matter on the beach than a tourist.

Our rivers have become conveyor belts for deadly pathogens, and it is only a matter of time before eThekwini and KwaZulu-Natal face a deadly outbreak.

In this city and in this province, the fight for access to clean water and sanitation has become a life-and-death battle.

The day the taps run dry across most of this city of over four million people, it will descend into chaos that will eclipse even the horror of the July 2021 looting.

There are not enough water tankers on earth to provide emergency access when the system finally collapses completely.

While the decline of this beautiful city is a cautionary tale, this horror story is not only playing out in eThekwini.

Across South Africa, including in the most densely-populated province of Gauteng, taps are running dry, water pumps have gone quiet, and people are thirsty.

The crisis has accelerated in recent years, as load shedding causes pumps and other infrastructure to fail faster than bankrupt ANC municipalities could ever fix it.

The lack of clean water will also exacerbate the hunger crisis in our country, as crops cannot grow without it.

The ANC government has set our country on a track to become a hungry and thirsty wasteland.

And let there be no doubt of the cause for this escalating water crisis.

The cause is three letters: A N C.

We have seen this movie before.

At Eskom, the ANC was so busy looting that they ignored warnings about load shedding.

For years, they were so preoccupied with eating that they never even looked up from the trough to see the lights go out.

Today, South Africans are forced to “make a plan” to deal with crippling load shedding that has destroyed our economy.

But now, the ANC is busy doing to the water system what they already did to Eskom.

They have deployed their corrupt cadres to loot from water boards across the length and breadth of this country.

Right here in eThekwini, they are blowing the city’s annual R60 billion budget on alcohol, parties and concerts.

There is always money for cadres to live in the lap of luxury, and then they tell us there is no money to fix waterpipes.

But what the ANC forgets is that South Africa is a constitutional democracy.

The Bill of Rights in our Constitution grants every South African the right of access to “sufficient food and water,” as well as the right to human dignity, health and a clean environment.

It commands the government to take actions to achieve the “progressive realisation” of these rights.

But what is happening in KZN, is the opposite.

Here, we have seen the “progressive un-realisation” of the right to water.

With every pipe that is destroyed, every pump that fails and every tap that runs dry, the ANC, EFF and the other members of the coalition of corruption are progressively “un-realising” your right of access to water.

The DA will not tolerate this intolerable situation.

We are not like Cyril Ramaphosa who just stands idly by as things fall apart.

The DA takes action. We get things done.

That is why I can today announce that the DA is filing a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission against the eThekwini Municipality, for its flagrant violations of the Bill of Rights.

The right to water, to human dignity and to a liveable environment have been shredded in this city.

In addition to taking the fight to the eThekwini council, the DA is also preparing for a nationwide campaign on the urgent threat posed to every citizen by the ANC-engineered collapse of our water infrastructure.

The latest Blue Drop report indicates that the majority of our country’s water systems “fail to produce compliant final water quality.”

Over 40% of all the water in this country falls into the very worst category for microbiological compliance.

This is an issue we will take up nationwide.

And it starts right here in eThekwini, today.

For many years, the ANC believed that the South African spirit of resilience expressed through “making a plan” worked in their favour.

They simply accepted that the people would “make a plan” in response to everything they took away from us.

But I am here to say that it is time to turn the tables on them.

When it comes to the water crisis, we will indeed make a plan.

But that plan is not what the ANC expects.

The plan we will make to avert a water catastrophe, is to get rid of the ANC.

In as little as four months from now, we can make a plan to rescue KwaZulu-Natal!

That plan is simple: vote DA to rescue KZN and to rescue South Africa!

The upcoming weekend of 3 and 4 February will be your last chance to register so you can vote in the upcoming election.

If you’ve already made another plan for that weekend, simply go to check.da.org.za today to get help registering.

Not a single one of us can live without water.

If you want a new government that will get your taps running again, that will clean up the filth from your sewerage systems, waterways and beaches, and that can recue you from thirst, you must vote DA.

And we really can do it.

Because in this election, for the first time ever, the DA can win in KwaZulu-Natal.

Working together with our partners in the IFP and the Multi-Party Charter, the DA is perfectly poised to take advantage of the ANC’s collapse in this province to form a new government to rescue KwaZulu-Natal.

The water crisis in eThekwini shows us the thirsty future that awaits all of us if we don’t remove the ANC right now.

So let it be right here in eThekwini that we today start the process to rescue KwaZulu-Natal before it is too late!

Thank you.

Be part of the mission to rescue South Africa, get help registering to vote at check.da.org.za