Local newsNews

Mayor and Joburg Water in derelection of duties

Both had committed themselves to working with civil society scientists and experts to try and solve Johannesburg's water crisis but have yet to make good on promises that now sound like lip service.

Sick and tired of constant water problems and outages across the city, a high-level civil society and activist group called the Water Crisis Committee formed towards the end of last year.

In October, the Mayor of Johannesburg, Kabelo Gwamanda, committed himself to meet with the group within 14 days when he addressed the group who was peacefully protesting at a council meeting in Brixton.

He made the same commitment in November but has so far not made himself available.

Spokesperson for the group Farah Domingo says, “He has failed to honour this undertaking. We interpret this non-response by the Mayor’s Office as a dereliction of his public duty, as water is a fundamental right.”

She says that since the inception of the committee over 96 days ago, some residents have had water outages and interruptions beyond seven days, far exceeding the South African Human Rights Commission’s definition of acceptable practice.

Operations manager of Johannesburg Water Logan Munsamy. Photo: Emily Wellman Bain

Dr Ferial Adam of Water CAN, an Outa (Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse) initiative says, “We asked the mayor’s office, “What would it take for affected citizens of Joburg to be heard on this water crisis?”

At the end of November, a meeting was held at Constitution Hill where Johannesburg and Rand Water were present with senior representatives pressed to explain the ongoing water crisis. The City of Johannesburg was notably absent despite being invited.

With a common starting point established, it was hoped that the group, along with the entities present, would collaborate to relieve some of the frustrations and pressures water scarcity brings to the city.

Adam’s says, “The representative from Johannesburg Water (JW) Logan Munsamy, committed to providing two names for the water forum. We have sent numerous emails and WhatsApp messages. He has said that we need to communicate with Nondumiso Mabuza, executive manager for communications, but we are yet to have a response. This is holding up the water forum meeting as we cannot proceed if the vital entity, Johannesburg Water, is not in attendance.”

The group say citizens are extremely frustrated with the city administrators ignoring attempts by civil society and technical experts to set up a representative water forum to take a longer-term view of the problems.

Spokesperson for the Water Crisis Committee Farah Domino speaks with Mayor of Johannesburg, Kabelo Gwamanda. Photo: Emily Wellman Bain

“We acknowledge that the problems are complex and need collaboration between government, civil society, technical experts and JW, but this can only happen if the city opens the doors of communication,” says Domingo.

Nolwazi Dhlamini from Johannesburg Water says, “Regarding Johannesburg Water representatives joining the Water Forum, this process has been discussed with Dr Ferrial Adam, who was advised of the way forward. Ms Nondumiso Mabuza will respond to her when she gets back from leave.

“Johannesburg Water remains committed to its mandate of providing a sustainable supply of water and sanitation services to the residents and businesses of the City of Johannesburg. The entity continues to prioritise and make every effort possible to alleviate water supply challenges and improve the lives of its customers through the provision of water and sanitation services.”

Neither the mayor, nor his office responded to this paper’s questions by the time of going to print.

Related Article: Protesters demand mayor takes action over water crisis

Related Articles

Back to top button