Water minister a no-show for parliament water committee
Jenni Evans, News24
Parliament - Minister of Water Affairs Nomvula Mokonyane was not present to hear the outrage about South Africa's drought and water crisis at a heated committee meeting in parliament on Wednesday.
''In this climate we would have needed her to attend," said DA MP Nosima Balindlela. Mokonyane was away on official business in Iran with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Without the customary glasses of water at hand because of the strike at parliament, Balindlela expressed condolences to Deputy Minister Pam Tshwete whose mother died at the weekend, but said she expected Mokonyane to have made an effort to attend given that three provinces had already declared disaster zones.
This left Debra Mochotlhi, deputy director general for water planning and information management to say what everybody already knew:
- Six provinces were "affected by the drought" - Limpopo, KwaZulu, Natal-Mpumalanga, Free State, Northern Cape, North West.
- Three had been declared disaster zones - KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Limpopo
- Water is a naturally scarce resource in a country already sharing four major river systems with six neighbours.
- Taps are running dry and the country faces a problem.
- Gauteng is hot and people are using a lot of water there.
"This department has failed South Africa,'' said DA MP Leon Basson.
"I can name you 40 [times] where we informed you beforehand there is a crisis of water, and yet you did nothing about it," he said.
Basson said battling municipalities had not received the help they needed to cope with the shortage, citing the example of Madibeng which was under administration and had been only allocated R176 million.
Another DA MP, Tarnia Baker, said she had received emails from people in KwaZulu-Natal who had not had water for months and were using water from an unrepaired gushing water leak to survive.
EFF MP Makoti Khawula made an impassioned plea for people to use water responsibly, and suggested that Rain Queen, Modjaji, be consulted.