Water crisis: Is Sisulu’s master plan enough?

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu Picture: Jaco Marais
Minister Lindiwe Sisulu Picture: Jaco Marais

The recently unveiled master plan to deal with the water crisis is inadequate – the government needs to realise that corruption, a lack of water management and a crisis in infrastructure and skills must be addressed.

This was the word from the Inkatha Freedom Party’s spokesperson on human settlements and water and sanitation, Xolani Ngwezi, criticised Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s plan today, saying that “our water woes cannot only be blamed on weather and changes within our climate”.

Sisulu has appealed to residents in Gauteng as well as throughout the country to use water sparingly as the province faces continuous heat waves and low rainfall patterns.

Addressing the media on Monday in Johannesburg, Sisulu cautioned the country against water wastage, saying that rainfall patterns were becoming harder to predict and that the dry season would last longer compared to previous years in Gauteng.

The province has experienced heat waves in recent weeks, with temperatures soaring upwards of 30 degrees. The South African Weather Service issued a statement last week, warning of persistent heat wave conditions over the north-eastern parts of South Africa including Gauteng, Limpopo, Free State and Mpumalanga, despite “typical Winter days” blowing over the south-western parts.

Parts of Cape Town were recently flooded following a heavy downpour of rain, but Gauteng remains hot and dry.

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The Free State.
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The North West.
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The Northern Cape.
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The Western Cape.
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The Eastern Cape.

Rand Water, which supplies water to Gauteng, parts of Mpumalanga, North West and Free State, has come under strain following the dry weather patterns with water levels in the Vaal Dam dropping to below 50%.

“I’m informed by advisors that the earliest we can expect rain at the rate at which we want to is December,” Sisulu said.

Referring to a media report which stated that the minister was “passing the buck” when it came to the issue of water supply in the country, Sisulu dismissed the report by saying: “I’m not sure who the buck is or who it is being passed to. It is certainly not the case and we face it fully,” she said.

Sisulu said that there would be future briefings taking place across the country in order to deal with the matter of water scarcity.

Rand Water has begun to impose restrictions on water use, with the minister cautioning against panic, and instead offering cautionary measures which should be exercised by municipalities in order to adhere to the restrictions.

“The situation is very serious, however it is not one that calls for panic. It is under control,” she said.

“Global water stress surveys place us as high on the list ... We face high water stress right now… All of us as water users have to handle the limited water resources we have in a sustainable way,” she said.

According to the minister, a master plan is under way to ensure that a shortage of water is augmented.

CEO of Rand Water Sipho Mosai said that water consumption had shot up from an average of 4,368 mega-litres a day to 5,000 mega-litres a day.

“At this stage we cannot be using water for anything other than drinking. If we reduce the demand, we should be fine,” Mosai added.

However, Ngwezi, criticised the minister’s briefing, saying that the country’s water woes cannot only be blamed on weather and changes within our climate, but corruption, a lack of water management and a crisis in infrastructure and skills must be addressed.

“For far too long has the ANC overlooked the importance of regular maintenance of bulk water infrastructure as was the case in the past by Minister Sisulu’s predecessor, Nomvula Mokonyane’s so-called ‘War on Leaks’ project,” Ngwezi said.

“We implore Minister Sisulu to walk her talk on the proposed master plan. South Africans are tired of hearing new plans from government when the plans lack the will for implementation.”


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