Cape Town - Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale on Saturday promised tough action against officials and contractors involved in the open toilets sagas that have embarrassed both the ANC and the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the run-up to next week's municipal elections.
"The poor cannot be left in the clutches of unscrupulous elements associated with the erection of such undignified sanitary structures," he said in a statement.
Sexwale said his ministry would make sure the Cape High Court judgment ordering the DA to enclose toilets in Makhaza in Khayelitsha on the Cape Flats would be enforced.
He also pledged to investigate the ANC's own open toilet sage in Rammulotsi in the Free State, where the party has begun to enclose the structures in a bid to minimise the damage to its election campaign.
"The Rammulotsi situation will have to be investigated and where necessary that contract will possibly have to be reviewed with the possibility of its termination," Sexwale said.
He vowed to blacklist contractors who built un-enclosed toilets and said those who were involved in the two cases that have made headlines, would be asked to reveal any link between their companies and local government officials.
He said he had ordered all heads of provincial departments of human settlements to provide details of all existing sanitation contracts.
Sexwale added that he wanted to ask Cabinet to centralise the provision of sanitation to some extent, without violating the constitutional rights of provincial government, to put an end to "disjointed" local planning.
He complained that "in all these areas various officials have the power to plant toilets just about where they please".
On Friday, ANC heavyweights, including its Youth League president Julius Malema, went to Rammulotsi and demanded to know from the mayor of Moqhaka, under whose authority the township falls, why the local administration allowed open toilets to be built.
Mayor Mantebu Mokgosi said there had been no money for enclosures and the provincial government had not responded to requests on the issue. Free State Premier Ace Magashule contradicted this, saying he had not been informed and there was money to tackle the problem.
The DA has said it would comply with the court order to enclose the open toilets in Khayelitsha. Party leader Helen Zille on Saturday held her final election rally in the sprawling township, and on Sunday ANC leaders were due to address supporters there.
The Human Rights Commission, which investigated the Rammulotsi case after it was revealed by the DA, has said it would release its findings soon.