Sewage disaster

2008-10-13 00:00

Raw sewage runs between houses and the E.coli count in a local river exceeds safety levels for humans by a factor of thousands. This is not occurring in a bankrupt, failed state, but in the uMngeni Municipality where a public health and environmental disaster looms near Howick.

In the Mpofana area, conservancy tanks are not being emptied. The overflow is entering the storm water drains and then the water supply system, ostensibly because of equipment failure. The responsible authority is the notorious uMgungundlovu District Municipality and this is yet another example of its negligence.

But broken machinery is a mere symptom. The real, urgent issue is that of failed local government. In an effective one-party state, service delivery and accountability are mere words. Patronage breeds complacent arrogance and a situation in which performance becomes irrelevant. Fortunately, the solution lies in the hands of ordinary people at the ballot box: democracy can still work.

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