Rise Mzansi leaders committed to the provision of clean drinkable water in KwaZulu-Natal

Nonkululeko Hlongwane Mhlongo

Nonkululeko Hlongwane Mhlongo

Published May 7, 2024


The South African Constitution is unambiguous regarding the provision and supply of water. It spells out that it is not only essential to life but to human life in particular. Section 27 of the Bill of Rights states that “Everyone has the right to have access to sufficient food and water.” Sadly, thirty years of democracy have failed to deliver water to all the citizens of KwaZulu-Natal as many of them still have to contend with irregular and inferior water supply. This is exacerbated by rampant corruption leading to poor infrastructure maintenance.

KwaZulu-Natal is a largely rural province which means that the majority of its citizens are still victims of a system that was created to ostracise the majority from having access to services such as proper water and sanitation. The current government has failed dismally to remedy this situation, and this can largely be attributed to a lack of political will.

The people of this province still have to be content with community taps, often situated far from home and they are meant to fetch water and carry it home. An unsustainable phenomenon given the mass urban migration that sees many young people leaving rural areas and flocking to the city for better opportunities. Who then assists the elderly in fetching and treating water in order to ensure that they are not consuming contaminated water which could open them up to diseases?

As if not having access to running water and the absence of proper sanitation that allows for the dignity of flushing toilets inside the house is not bad enough, our people have to contend with being denied benefiting from existing dams. The people of uMkhanyakude today still suffer from drought-like conditions despite there being a dam in Jozini that can easily supply the residents in the district including businesses. The ceremonial tap-turning exercise by Cyril Ramaphosa in February this year has not led to flowing water in the homes of the majority in that district.

But we are not only failing to construct infrastructure that will bring water to areas that have not had access to it before, but we are also failing dismally to maintain inherited infrastructure. Margate and eThekwini are sterling examples of what not to do concerning maintenance. Non-revenue water loss in eThekwini remains the highest of all the metropolitan municipalities in South Africa despite countless interventions developed to curb this. Non-revenue water loss in 2023 was sitting at 53% as opposed to the 37% recorded in 2013. A clear indication of a gross redress failure by the ANC government to address this service delivery imperative with far-reaching implications.

Remaining with the current government that has proven that it does not have the capacity or sufficient political will to prioritise the people of South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal specifically, will not solve our problems. Rampant corruption that has seen the prevalence of water tankers owned by the politically connected in eThekwini will continue to hamper accessibility to water such that the city relinquishes reliance on privately owned tankers. Failed projects in Ugu District will continue to frustrate businesses and tourists that should essentially be driving up tourism and revenue streams in the district.

Ultimately poor water management affects the ability of our people to take advantage of the vast arable land that can provide a source of income and nutritious food. A subject matter that Rise Mzansi is passionate about. As an organisation, we understand that water is life and will place our efforts on ensuring it. We will focus resources on town planning and to align infrastructure projects to population growth and also ensure access to rural areas to encourage farming and job creation. Failing to ensure that water is supplied adequately is not only a human rights violation but a denial of a dignified life that should be reflective of the aspirations of our country.

Nonkululeko Hlongwane-Mhlongo is the KwaZulu-Natal Rise Mzansi premier candidate.

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