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By Kyle Zeeman

Digital News Editor

SA water woes ‘a crisis’ for Ramaphosa

A crisis: Nearly 250, or 8.87%, of voting stations in Gauteng won't have water next month.

Despite Minister Senzo Mchunu’s declaration that SA is not in a water crisis, President Cyril Ramaphosa believes we are and is trying to turn the tide.

The country has been plagued by water shortages and challenges for several years, with many South Africans set to vote in next month’s elections at voting stations without running water.

ALSO READ: South Africans warned to brace for massive 6-month shutdown of critical water supply

In a presentation on Tuesday, Gauteng police revealed that nearly 250, or 8.87%, of voting stations in Gauteng won’t have water next month.

A crisis?

As citizens across the country battle with empty taps, Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu told eNCA last month that SA is not at crisis level.

Instead, he blamed years-long neglect, a “lack of capacity” at municipalities, and inactivity from the department.

Watch the minister’s comments below

Asked about Mchunu‘s comments on Tuesday, presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said Ramaphosa believed it was a crisis.

“For the president, it is a crisis. He has set up a task team, headed by the Deputy President [Paul Mashatile], to look at water-related challenges,” he told the same broadcaster.

A ‘Sanral of water’ to resolve crisis

Magwenya said plans were underway to develop a central body “like a Sanral of water” that will work on the planning, design, and building of water infrastructure across the country.

ALSO READ: ‘SA in a much better place under ANC than 29 years ago’- Mashatile

“It is a matter the president is attending to, and it is a matter he considers a crisis that needs to be addressed expeditiously”

Taps running dry, and more to follow?

Hundreds of thousands of Johannesburg residents were left without supply for several days last month after a power outage at Rand Water’s Eikenhof pump station.

NGO WaterCAN CEO Dr Ferrial Adam said at the time Johannesburg was staring down the barrel of a catastrophic supply crisis, as lack of maintenance and governance caught up with the city.

There have been further concerns that supply may get worse when critical maintenance gets underway on the Lesotho Highlands Water Project tunnel later this year.

The tunnel feeds Johannesburg and farms in the Free State and is set to close from October 2024 until the end of March 2025.

Additional reporting by Faizel Patel