Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

Dedicated grant for infrastructure? – Here are political parties’ plans for SA’s water problems

South Africa has been plagued by water cuts and shortages for several years.

South Africa’s water woes could play a crucial factor in influencing how citizens vote in the upcoming national and provincial elections.

Eligible voters will mark their X on the ballot in the polls set for 29 May.

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However, several voting stations are expected to operate without running water, including in Gauteng.

South Africa has been plagued by water cuts and shortages for several years; leading to some experts to predict that day zero was not far away.

ALSO READ: South Africa’s water crisis: Why it’s important to protect your home

Additionally, it has been found that the majority of the country’s water systems “fail to produce compliant final water quality”.

The deterioration of water quality and supply abilities has been attributed to the decay of critical infrastructure.

But political parties, including the African National Congress (ANC), the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Democratic Alliance (DA), have pledged to improve and manage water effectively.

This is how South Africa’s three biggest political parties plan to turn the tide on the water crisis.

ANC plans on water

The ANC has vowed to improve access to clean water and increase bulk water infrastructure over the next five years should the party emerge victorious in this year’s general election.

According to the ruling party’s manifesto, national and provincial governments have more powers to intervene to provide clean water where municipalities are struggling to properly provide this service, build maintenance capacity and complete water infrastructure projects.

The party will invest “heavily” in upgrading and expanding water infrastructure to ensure that households and businesses have access to clean drinking water.

The ANC has also pledged to install solar water geysers in working-class and poor households to support job creation and local manufacturing.

EFF to use pension funds?

The EFF has promised to ensure that all residences have access to piped water inside their houses.

The Red Berets has pledged to upgrade all water infrastructure and ensure that all provinces have “excellent” performing drinking water systems by 2026.

This will happen after an assessment of the state of the infrastructure in all municipalities is completed.

The party will conduct regular water quality tests and evaluations across all municipalities to achieve water quality compliance.

One of the eye-catching pledges in the EFF’s manifesto is the party’s to reform the laws to remove “bureaucratic hurdles” to allow “greater use of public pension funds in the water sector”.

READ MORE: Water: Government is failing to realise this human right

Furthermore, the EFF plan to discontinue private ownership of bulk water infrastructure and ensure that households, factories and schools, amongst others, have access to clean water by 2025.

The Julius Malema-led party will seek to combat corruption of water resources by the end of next year.

An EFF government, according to the party, will introduce stricter water quality regulations, which will include regular testing of water sources and the imposing of harsher penalties for industries that pollute water by 2026.

DA’s ‘water-sensitive cities’

The DA claims it will tackle the crisis of water crisis with the “same vigour” the party seeks to end load shedding.

The party’s priority is to address governance challenges in the Department of Water and Sanitation and improve water supply by involving as well as encouraging private companies to invest in water infrastructure projects.

“[The DA] will work towards developing water-sensitive cities that seek to optimise stormwater and urban waterways for improved flood control and water reuse and developing public spaces that collect, clean and recycle water,” the party’s manifesto reads.

The party will develop “water-wise citizens who can make good choices about water usage and re-usage”.

RELATED: ‘We should be investing R3 billion annually’: City of Joburg speaks on water crisis

The DA has further promised to increase the amount and quality of wastewater that is treated and reused.

It will also consider creating “a dedicated grant” for water infrastructure maintenance.

This, according to the DA, will ensure that the funds are “exclusively channelled into maintaining water infrastructure”.

Meanwhile, the party will fast-track dam and water treatment works infrastructure development and maintenance.