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Division of Water and Sanitation should failing water s…


It’s arduous sufficient to compete on the worldwide rugby stage today. A lot extra when there’s a biased referee, typically sarcastically known as the opposing workforce’s finest participant. Well-known Springbok “water boy” Rassie Erasmus was barely again from his year-long ban after highlighting refereeing inconsistencies in a leaked video, when he once more acquired sidelined for comparable infringements.

Mockingly, it’s been a yr that has additionally highlighted the inconsistencies of South Africa’s water referee, the Division of Water and Sanitation (DWS). As custodian of South Africa’s water assets, the DWS is remitted by the Nationwide Water Act (36) of 1998 to make sure that our water assets are “protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and managed” in a sustainable and equitable method. This regulation amongst others gives the foundations of the sport for water customers because the gamers and DWS because the referee.

In South Africa’s water video games there are two primary groups entered, the personal sector and the state. The personal sector consists of gamers like agriculture, mining and industries whereas municipal bulk water and wastewater therapy vegetation principally belong to the state. No matter who performs, the foundations are the identical and all gamers should adjust to the necessities for admission (i.e. be authorised or licensed) and play based on the foundations (licence situations). It’s the job of DWS as referee to make sure compliance and honest play.

After the Jagersfontein tailings dam collapse in September, DWS spokesperson Sputnik Ratau revealed that the Jagersfontein compliance audit in 2019 highlighted irregularities which wanted to be addressed, together with the storage of extreme tailings volumes which resulted in a directive being issued in December 2020. Following additional investigation, it was reported that Deputy Minister of DWS, David Mahlobo, meant to put prison expenses towards the house owners, Jagersfontein Developments, and rightly so.

Mockingly, only a week later News24 revealed that 15 of the nation’s 20 largest dams should not compliant with security requirements both. This time the custodian is the state, particularly DWS themselves. Think about a probably catastrophic dam failure within the wake of the heavy rains in components of the nation of the previous month. Who will then be prosecuted because the referee is now additionally a participant on the sector?

Equally, a variety of information protection was afforded to the poisonous spill from United Phosphorous Restricted’s (UPL) Cornubia plant in Durban following the torching of their manufacturing unit through the July 2021 unrest. The very first thing to occur was to scrutinise the standing of their water use and environmental authorisations and compliance. This can be a needed step within the accountability course of due to the “polluter pays” precept. UPL launched tens of millions for the clean-up operations and steady monitoring, regardless of the spill ensuing from elements past their direct management.


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Mop-up operations had been nonetheless underway when heavy rains wreaked havoc in the identical space in April this yr. A number of hundred lives had been misplaced, property destroyed, and stormwater and sewerage infrastructure broken. This resulted in a number of seashores being closed due to excessive E. coli counts from the leaking uncooked sewage.

A number of months later, not a lot has modified. Actually, a Carte Blanche investigation revealed that though the storms did considerably contribute to the sewage air pollution, E. coli counts had been above leisure requirements lengthy earlier than the floods. Their investigation uncovered pump stations rendered dysfunctional due to vandalism, which resulted in sewage effervescent from manholes — nothing to do with storm harm.

Additional inland, after many years of complaints, the Human Rights Fee’s report on persistent sewage air pollution of the higher Vaal River was lastly launched in February 2021. The apparent finger factors to the Emfuleni Native Municipality (amongst others), who shifted blame to their ailing sewerage infrastructure in a pathetic try and abscond duty. However moderately than an excuse, it’s a candid act of contrition, like a taxi boss who tries guilty the unroadworthy state of his rolled taxi by which a number of passengers had been killed. Whose job is it to take care of infrastructure upkeep?

The report additionally discovered that each the Departments of Water and Sanitation and Environmental Affairs (DEA) failed to carry the municipality to account, regardless of the flexibility and mandate to take action. Why do personal sector gamers get issued with purple and yellow playing cards, whereas native municipal officers get away with warnings time after time?

The reply lies in Part 139 of the Structure. When a municipality like eThekwini or Emfuleni fails in its obligation as water service supplier, Part 139 of the Structure ensures that the buck will get handed to provincial after which nationwide degree.

Provincial intervention did nothing for the Vaal. Nationwide Treasury gave more cash to repair infrastructure, whereas the military was deployed to guard and even assist repair infrastructure. The HRC report makes many good suggestions, most directed to DWS. Successfully this passes the ball from the transgressing participant to the referee with the whistle, who’s now concerned in play, with nobody left to officiate.

Directorship of a personal firm like Jagersfontein Developments comes with huge duty, even prison legal responsibility. How rather more ought to it not apply to municipal positions? DM

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