By Leon Basson MP, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation:
The Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane’s persistent dithering with regards to the release of the 2014 Blue and Green Drop Reports highlights a lack of transparency which shows her government’s unwillingness to own up and confront South Africa’s water crisis and the causes thereof. A reply to a DA oral question reveals that Mokonyane announced she would release the reports by 30 September 2015, but as routine, she has missed this deadline without an explanation or an alternative date.
Minister Mokonyane’s inaction in this regard raises serious concerns about how committed she is to solving the country’s water problems. Her department’s poor management of water and water infrastructure has already compounded the effects of the drought currently facing South African and its people.
Earlier this week, during an oral reply in Parliament – nearly four weeks after the estimated release date – the Minister once again refused to give a date for release of the reports, rather engaging in more obfuscation and delay tactics.
The Blue Drop Programme measures water treatment plants and the quality of drinking water and the Green Drop Programme assesses the quality of wastewater treatment works. These reports are crucial for identifying systems that fail to provide communities with clean and safe water. The DWS clearly has something to hide regarding the state of our water infrastructure.
The DA urgently calls on Minister Mokonyane to stop stalling and table the 2014 Blue and Green Drop Reports in Parliament within the next seven days. Failing to do so, the DA will request the reports through the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2 of 2000.
Communities can only hold their elected officials to account when they are armed with information on how their municipalities are being run.
The Minister claims that she has released the reports to the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) for input, but SALGA’s comments cannot change the outcomes of the assessments. In 2013 the Reports were also withheld from the public without good reason.
The withholding of these reports is undoubtedly a ploy by the government to shield poorly managed ANC-run municipalities from scrutiny. A summary of the 2013 Green Drop Report indicated that 30.1% of all waste water treatment systems in South Africa are in a critical state, a further 19.5% were in a poor state.
These figures indicate that millions of litres of untreated or partially treated sewage flows into South Africa’s rivers every day, the effects of untreated sewage on our rivers only worsen during conditions of drought.
The DA upholds transparency in government and will fight to protect South African’s by holding negligent and irresponsible Ministers accountable for the degradation of South Africa’s infrastructure to a point that countless lives are at risk.