Almost Half of Mpumalanga’s Water Supply Not Paid For

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition.

Virtually half of all water supplied by municipalities in the province is not paid for, increasing the burden on municipalities to maintain and improve existing water supply infrastructure.

In response to the DA’s written parliamentary questions on average water losses in each municipality the minister for water affairs, Ms Edna Molewa provided us with a detailed analysis of average water losses, percentage of usage, water supply and demand for every local municipality in the province.

The reply was – to say the least – startling, and explains why water in this province is in such a crisis. According to the report, 49,94% of all water supplied in Mpumalanga is not paid for. While no details were provided, this includes free water to the poor, water losses through leakages, and users not paying for water.

While the DA fully supports government initiatives to supply free potable water to indigent households, it is inconceivable that this is the only contributing factor to so much water not being paid for.

Bushbuckridge is said to have 100% non-water revenue, meaning that no one pays a cent for water. How on earth is it possible that not one household, business or government department (including schools and hospitals) pays for water in that entire area? The only conclusion that the DA can draw from this is that the municipality completely lacks the competence and ability to bill for services rendered.

The picture is not much rosier in many other municipalities. Apart from Bushbuckridge, four other municipalities, Dr JS Moroka (71,9%), Chief Albert Luthuli (63,8%) Emakhazeni (54,8%) and Emalahleni (53,15%) collect less than half of their respective water revenue; with four others, Pixley ka Seme (49,8%), Mkhondo (48,0%), Mbombela (41,4%), Lekwa (40,0%) being unacceptably high.

It comes as no surprise that the DA has been voicing its concern over water supply in many of these municipalities, vindicating our stance of the ANC using local and district municipalities as job creation vehicles for party members, sacrificing competence and service delivery in the process. Even in the ANC’s “flagship municipality”, Steve Tshwete, there is a 33,8% water revenue loss, which should set the alarm bells ringing of an impending billing and water supply crisis.

To prevent the water crisis from deepening, the DA will instruct each of its caucuses in every council to submit formal questions asking for a detailed analysis of non-revenue water supplied in their respective municipalities, how much of that is supplied to indigent households and how much is lost to leakages in reticulation systems. We will also ask for an explanation on how much water is being billed and not paid for, or being consumed and not billed, and to provide reasons for the non-billing of services.

In addition, the DA will submit written parliamentary questions to the cooperative governance MEC Madala Masuku and ask him to provide us with a similar analysis. We will also ask MEC Masuku to explain how the provincial government, through the Accelerated Community Infrastructure Programme, the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant, and National Transfers Programme, as provided for by the national government, improves water conservation and demand management in each municipality.

The ANC-led government’s incompetence has gradually and systematically reduced municipalities’ ability to provide potable water to its citizens. The DA has shown that where we govern, municipal administrations, staffed with skilled and competent individuals, deliver services to all. The people of Mpumalanga are waking up to this fact, and are demanding the same from a government long on promises and short on delivery.

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