DA blames national government for exacerbating water shortages

Pretoria - The Democratic Alliance (DA) again blamed partly the national government for the water crisis in the drought-stricken Western and Eastern Cape, saying it had "failed" to repair and maintain aged water infrastructure, or ensure that there were adequate water supplies.

Following an oversight visit to the Nooitgedacht Low Level Water Scheme in Port Elizabeth on Monday, the DA's Leon Basson said residents were confronted by a rapidly dwindling water supply due to the drought and urged Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane to intervene. 

READ: Panic and blame as Cape Town braces for water shut-off

"The Department of Water and Sanitation is required to provide the bulk water supply to municipalities across the country to enable the distribution of water to their citizens, especially where communities face dire conditions of droughts and water scarcity," Basson added in a statement.

"Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane must now urgently ensure the availability of water as per the Constitutional mandate of her department."

"Minister Mokonyane, as the rightful custodian of the country’s water under the National Water Act, has a legal mandate to work hand in hand with local and provincial authorities to find solutions to the crippling drought."

Basson said the DA would not allow Mokonyane to "continuously shirk her key responsibility and trample on our people’s basic human right to have access to clean water".

He added that the small towns of Humansdorp and Patensie in the Eastern Cape, which heavily rely on the Kouga Dam, have joined areas in the province that are at a serious risk of running dry as the region was declared a disaster area in May 2017. 

He said the Kouga Dam was at 7.71%.

READ: Water crisis is a 'governance disaster' - former Western Cape MEC

"The reality is that [the] national government failed in its duty to ensure an adequate supply of water and repair and maintain the aged water infrastructure which has exacerbated the severe water shortages in [the] drought-stricken provinces of the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Limpopo," said Basson.

Basson added that water scarcity was not a "political football" and that all sectors must come to the party, including Parliament.

On Friday, before a closed Parliamentary session on Cape Town's plans to avoid Day Zero, Mokonyane told reporters that, while she was "very good at playing politics", she did not come to Cape Town to argue with other political parties, but to work together with the various stakeholders.

"I'm not at war with anyone. We should be at war with water loss. That's why we are here.

"Those who are the bigger water users, like the irrigation sector, we would like them to come to the party.

"There is no substitute, there is no alternative source of water, except us protecting the little that we have and working together without pointing fingers and playing politics."

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