Call on minister for ‘less talk, more action’ to fix eThekwini water crisis

Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu.

Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu.

Published Dec 21, 2023


Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu and eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda held an imbizo in uMlazi on Wednesday to discuss the water crisis plaguing parts of the metro which has seen areas experiencing water outages for days.

However, opposition parties in eThekwini called on Mchunu to talk less and act more, saying those who have borne the brunt of the crisis “are not interested in talk shops”.

Ntuzuma, Phoenix, Durban North, uMhlanga and oThongathi are among the areas that have recently experienced intermittent water supply, while some uMlazi residents have complained they have struggled with access to water for 20 years.

Mchunu said that his department would be assessing and acting on the challenges in the area.

He noted the Human Rights Commission’s recommendations on municipalities in the province that are failing to provide safe drinking water.

“We have studied the report, we have started a preliminary response saying that we welcome the report and its recommendations.

“On January 18 and 19, we are calling all 184 water service authorities, including those in KZN, to Johannesburg, where we will comprehensively address this matter of water quality (in this province), in Limpopo and in all provinces, including those visited by the Commission,” Mchunu said.

The eThekwini Municipality has also brought in a team of expert administrators to help resolve persistent water problems and said water supply challenges will be eliminated within the next three years.

The team members include former eThekwini City manager Sibusiso Sithole, former Harry Gwala District Municipality manager Nandi Dlamini, and former Ugu District Municipality Water Services Authority executive Maxwell Pawandiwa.

DA eThekwini deputy caucus leader Mzamo Billy said residents and businesses were bearing the brunt of what he called a “massive water crisis”.

“We are constantly in contact with the City manager, mayor and the head of water because councillors are the first port of call when people do not have water, but councillors no longer have answers.

“In Phoenix, for example, there is a water outage every second day.” Billy said that water infrastructure in the metro had collapsed, saying “it will take a couple of years to resolve these challenges”.

He said people were frustrated and did not want “talk shops”, but instead wanted to know what practical plans were being put in place to resolve the crisis.

“People don’t want to consult further, the infrastructure has been neglected by the ANC for many years and they have spent less on upgrading.

Imbizos are a further waste of taxpayers’ money,” said Billy.

The IFP’s chairperson in the district, Mdu Nkosi, said the City’s water losses stood at more than 50% and little was being done to address the leaks.

“The national government has spent a lot of money to resolve these issues, but there are still issues with the infrastructure and they have not put the right people in place to make sure the funds are used properly.

“People do not need speeches, they need water.

“That is why we believe the water and sanitation department in the metro should be placed under administration so these issues can be resolved,” Nkosi said.

The Mercury