DA Chief Whip in the Mpumalanga Legislature
The DA welcomes the fact that water affairs minister, Ms Edna Molewa has decided to take the time to visit Carolina and experience the water pollution situation first-hand. Minister Molewa is expected to visit the waste water treatment works as well as the Boesmanspruit Dam during the course of today.
However, the progress report minister Molewa is to receive will not show any progress at all, as water test results have shown little or no change since last being tested on February 12. The latest results show unacceptably high levels of heavy metals, such as manganese, aluminium, chromium, cobalt, copper lead and nickel, which are all attributed to mining activities.
The DA welcomes minister Molewa’s acknowledgement that the contamination of the Boesmanspruit was caused by seepage and run-off from mining activities in the area (commonly known as acid mine drainage), severely compromising fresh water supply to the town of Carolina and further downstream, but we remain concerned over the lack of response from the Department of Mineral Resources and its minister, Ms Susan Shabangu.
Both departments should be involved in this crisis, as the overlap in portfolios and jurisdiction demands it. The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) needs to investigate the cause of the contamination, and put measures into place to prevent it from continuing. Furthermore, the DA urges minister Shabangu to carefully scrutinise the water usage licenses and outflow of all mines in the area, and take firm punitive action against any and all found to be polluting the system. This should include a hefty fine, as well as a “rehabilitation expense”.
Furthermore, the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) needs to ensure that water supply is clean and fit for human consumption, while using alternative measures to supply fresh water to communities. While the efforts of DWA to supply water by tanker are appreciated, careful attention should be paid to the conditions of these vehicles. Of the four tankers used, one was taken from the road by traffic officials, due to its un-roadworthy condition. The other three are in such a filthy state that residents are sceptical whether the water inside is actually fit for human consumption.
The DA wishes to urge all parties concerned, including national, provincial administration and water authorities to find a speedy solution to the water crisis in Carolina, while at the same developing an emergency response plan, to limit the effects of a similar situation in the future.
James Masango MPL