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Komani-Karoo
DA establishes water and sanitation rapid response committees in Chris Hani District

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has begun establishing rapid response committees to address the total collapse of water and sanitation services provided by the Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM).

On 3 November the first of three Town Hall meetings regarding this matter was held in Cradock, in the Inxuba Yethemba Local Municipality.

The CHDM is responsible for the provision of water and sanitation services to the local municipalities of Inxuba Yethemba, Enoch Mgijima, Intsika Yethu, Emalahleni, Engcobo and Sakhisizw.

According to a media statement issued by Nqaba Bhanga, DA Eastern Cape Provincial Leader, non-operational wastewater treatment works, and pump stations, have led to raw sewage flowing unabatedly into the Great Fish River and through the streets of towns such as Cradock, Middelburg and Komani.

"Residents of these municipalities also regularly have to make do without water when their taps run dry for days on end.

"The Great Fish River is one of the biggest sources of freshwater supply in the Eastern Cape and provides drinking water to more than two million people. It is criminal that the incompetent CHDM is knowingly polluting this important water resource and doing nothing about it," Bhanga said in the statement.

The meeting on 3 November was attended by 100 community members, and a water and sanitation rapid response committee was established to find solutions to this problem. Similar rapid response committees were established at a meeting on 4 November in Komani and on 5 November’s meeting in Elliot. "Representatives of all local municipalities will be elected to serve on these committees – with the process for Inxuba Yethemba already complete."

The committees will focus on the following discussion points:

  • The water provision competency should remain with the CHDM.
  • The water provision competency should revert back to local municipalities.
  • The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) must appoint a Water Services Committee in terms of Section 51 of the Water Services Act of 1997. This would effectively mean that the water and sanitation competency would be removed from the CHDM. This time can then be used to prepare the CHDM, or alternatively the local municipality, to capacitate themselves to again take over the competency in the future.
  • The Amatola Water Board must take over the water provision competency in the Chris Hani District.

"Appointing a Water Services Committee is the DA’s preferred option, and we will be pushing hard for this to become a reality. If the DWS refuses to intervene, we will be forced to revert to the courts to find a solution to this issue.

"Access to clean drinking water and sanitation are basic human rights, and recently the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) heeded the DA’s call to investigate the collapse of water and sanitation in the CHDM."

In September the DA received documentation regarding the failures of the CHDM from the DWS, after successfully launching a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application in July 2020.

"The documentation clearly states that the CHDM is not fulfilling its water and sanitation provision competency to residents. It also shows the municipality has ignored letters, notices, briefs, pre-directives and directives from the DWS without any fear of being brought to book."

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