By Kobus Botha (MPL), EC Midlands constituency leader:
Thirteen people, including two four-year-olds, were treated at Cradock hospital on Sunday (subs: 1 Nov) for gastroenteritis due to suspected water contamination.
Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) as the responsible water service authority has struggled for years to deliver quality, safe water. Local residents have been complaining for months of the unpalatable water that smells bad and contains green algae.
In a caring society, grounded in the principles of freedom, fairness and opportunities, communities should be free from the threat of water-contamination. Access to clean water is a basic human right.
The breakdown of the ageing water infrastructure and sewage treatment works is the direct result of the ANC government’s failure to attract appropriately qualified personnel to operate and maintain our purification and water reticulation systems.
The Cradock waste water treatment plant is operating at less than 50% of its full capacity, with frequent raw sewage spills into the Great Fish River.
Amid this growing crisis, the DA has been on the forefront of driving this issue on behalf of residents. Thanks to our efforts the on-going water quality problems in Cradock will receive attention in parliament this week.
The DA, in conjunction with civil society organisations such as the Cradock Business Forum and Ratepayers Association, collected over 600 signatures from residents recently. The petition was handed to the Speaker of CHDM, George Xoseni, Provincial Legislature Speaker Noxolo Kiviet and the Speaker of the National Parliament, Baleka Mbete.
Our determination has forced the ANC on all four levels of government to respond to the people of Inxuba Yethemba at the highest level. Hon. Mbete has agreed to refer our petition to the National Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation in Parliament for action.
I have been informed by my colleague, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation, Leon Basson MP, that the National Committee has indeed summoned Cooperative Governance MEC Fikile Xasa, and the municipal managers of Inxuba Yethemba (Mopo Mene) and Chris Hani District (Mzwandile Tantsi) to appear before the Portfolio Committee on 4 November 2015 in Cape Town to account for their actions and to explain how the water crisis in Cradock and Middelburg will be addressed.
The DA’s response to this crisis is yet another example that we are a caring government in waiting. We will continue to hold the current government to account on behalf of the people.