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Water Ministry should coordinate water relief not oppose it

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) calls on groups to continue their support for Cape Town drought relief and expresses concern over the negative reaction by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS).

“Instead of fighting those who want to help, the DWS should embrace active citizenry and assist by helping to coordinate those organisations and individuals who are helping others in need,” says Julius Kleynhans, Water Portfolio Manager at OUTA.

“Where is the DWS plan to coordinate national offers of help for Cape Town and other water-stressed areas?”

DWS has been reported as saying that the sending of Gauteng water to Cape Town puts Gauteng’s water supplies at risk.

“We acknowledge an element of risk to our supplies but we need to manage it,” says Kleynhans.

“We want to encourage people, if possible, to buy bottled water to support these causes as this method poses a lower risk on water quality issues and spreads the load on water sources from all over the country. It is also important for those who receive the water in Cape Town, to ensure that the water is healthy to drink (If the bottle is not sealed, at least boil it before consumption).”

Kleynhans says the lack of proactive planning and implementation by the DWS over ensuring sustainable future water supply is the core reason for the City of Cape Town being in such a mess, even in a drought situation. “It is the constitutional duty of this Department to proactively create capacity for future demand in water, to ensure good quality of water and to manage drought situations responsibly. DWS has failed this country, not only Cape Town.”

The DWS has failed to provide solutions to Cape Town, but waited until the last minute to offer a desalination plant which would be built under an emergency tender run through Umgeni Water, which is not even in the Western Cape. “We continuously see that emergency situations are created so that proper tender processes can be avoided and money can be looted in situations like these,” says Kleynhans.

“If the Lesotho Highlands Water Project Phase II was finished on time, it would have supplied us with water in Gauteng this year, 2018, which leaves us with a great example of the inefficiencies of DWS and its leadership, putting Gauteng under severe risk regarding water supplies,” says Kleynhans.

With “Day Zero” looming for Cape Town, OUTA calls on residents to be proactive citizens and push back that date by limiting their water use, and for others to help by supporting the collection initiatives. Schools, companies and communities have been donating water bottles and tanks that will be sent to the Mother City while Capetonians wait for their first winter rains.

“We express our gratitude to the Gift of the Givers, Water Shortage South Africa and others for their initiatives and trust that the government will support their efforts in assisting the Mother City. We also want to encourage these initiatives to go beyond the Cape Town crisis. There is a grave need for similar interventions across the country and for all South Africans to start using water more sparingly and responsibly,” says Kleynhans.

OUTA is a proudly South African non-profit civil action organisation, comprising of and supported by people who are passionate about holding government accountable and improving the prosperity of South Africa.

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