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By Martin Williams

Councillor at City

Mashatile dances around water crisis

The deputy president has contributed to Joburg’s water woes. He helped deliver an inept mayor who says there is no water crisis.

Deputy President Paul Mashatile, a BEE beneficiary and cadre deployee who is under investigation for alleged corruption, blames councillors for non-delivery of water, and presents himself as one who will solve South Africa’s water crisis. Bizarre.

Cadre deployment, BEE and corruption led to this crisis.

Mashatile told a Sunday newspaper the crisis had reached the point where national government would step in where necessary.

“I know some local councillors won’t like that because they say we’re taking their powers. We’re not going to take their powers, but we will intervene where we realise that [despite] the support we are giving, and the grants, there is no progress.

“It is true that the provision of water in the constitution is the responsibility of municipalities, but the constitution does not bar national government from intervening.

“You don’t wait and say we will give capacity to the municipality, we’re going to give them grants and nothing happens. The priority of national government should be the people, so if you think the help you’re giving councillors is not bearing fruit, then you go directly as national government.”

For most people, “councillor”, means ward councillor – the person there to help you in dealing with your municipality. Ward councillors have no executive authority.

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Those with executive authority are mayors and members of mayoral committees (MMCs).

Mashatile was instrumental in replacing Joburg’s short-lived Mpho Phalatse administration with an ANC/EFF/PA coalition which brought Joburg to its knees.

Thus, he contributed to Joburg’s water woes. He helped deliver an inept mayor who says there is no water crisis.

Because Mashatile is a leader within the ANC, he is by extension also complicit in bigger-picture failures inflicted by ANC deployees. Consider, for example, the Lesotho Highlands water project, which feeds the Vaal River system, on which Gauteng depends.

Interviewed last week by Judge Dennis Davis on eNCA’s Judge For Yourself programme, national department of water and sanitation (DWS) director-general Sean Phillips said one reason for the current shortages was the nineyear delay in completing phase two of the Lesotho project.

Instead of being ready in 2019, phase two will come into effect in 2028.

For this, DWS bears responsibility. Between 2011 and 2022, DWS had five ANC ministers – including the scandal-prone Nomvula Mokonyane – and 11 directors-general.

ALSO READ: UJ lecturer questions Mashatile on ethical leadership

Phillips said Johannesburg was in a “particularly difficult situation now because phase two is overdue” and “there isn’t sufficient water in the integrated Vaal River system between now and 2028”.

He said Johannesburg can get through this situation “if Joburg Water improve their maintenance and reduce the leaks”.

And if they embark on an awareness campaign such as that which helped Cape Town fend off water day zero in 2018.

Any awareness campaign will be weakened if Joburg Water don’t fix leaks and bursts timeously and properly.

People won’t take the messages seriously if they continue to see water running in the streets.

Since day zero, Cape Town’s per capita water usage levels remain the lowest in South Africa. So there are people in SA who know how to beat a water crisis.

Mashatile isn’t one of them.

ALSO READ: Mashatile allegations may influence public trust in govt – analyst

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