DA requests Minister Mchunu’s urgent intervention to resolve Rustenburg water crisis

Issued by Cheryl Philips – DA Constituency Head, Rustenburg Local Municipality
02 Feb 2024 in Press Statements

Note to Broadcasters: Please find a linked soundbite in English by Cheryl Philips MP.

The DA has today engaged the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, requesting his urgent intervention into the ongoing water crisis affecting large areas throughout the Rustenburg Local Municipality.

Minister Mchunu must ensure interim measures are implemented to alleviate the suffering of residents until the new P2 waterline line is commissioned. Both Magalies Water and Rand Water report to the minister and he must hold them to account and where necessary, intervene to ensure the restoration of water supply to residents.

We have consistently pursued every avenue at our disposal in a bid to get the municipality to resolve this persistent crisis. Unfortunately, the ANC-led municipality, quite frankly, has no concern with the desperate situation thousands of families find themselves in because of its failure to govern properly.

Rustenburg suburbs supplied by Magalies Water barely enjoy access to piped water for 4 to 5 hours a day, sometimes there is no water supply for days on end. Magalies Water implemented a water-shedding schedule in November 2023 to try and alleviate the demand on the system, but the schedule is seldom adhered to due to low reservoir levels.

Loadshedding, poor maintenance, aged infrastructure, pipe bursts and vandalism exacerbate the problem. We have recorded 18 events in January 2024 alone that prevented water supply to residents.

Residents in Geelhoutpark, Tlhabane West, Rustenburg North, Zinniaville and Karlienpark are desperate for a drop of water. We have requested the Rustenburg Local Municipality to ensure the mobilisation of water tankers to bring some relief, but it seems that the ANC-governed municipality does see the need to respond to this crisis with temporary relief measures.

These are the same areas that would have benefitted from a 12 Ml per day upgrade to the Bospoort Water Treatment Plant which has never been completed due to tender irregularities flagged by the Auditor-General that involved CMS, a company in which the controversial businessman Edwin Sodi, is a partner. The Bospoort Water treatment plant is currently not supplying any water to the Industrial reservoir system.

Last year on 5 September 2023, we submitted a petition signed by more than 1 000 residents affected by constant water outages to the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation Portfolio in Parliament requesting relief. Both the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu and his deputy minister, Judith Tshabalala, visited Rustenburg but there has been no improvement in either the supply of water or the maintenance and repair of the water infrastructure. The only notable achievement is the construction of a reservoir in a system where there are already 5 reservoirs that are never full.

There can be no clean and reliable water supply without electricity.

On Monday, a severe storm caused an electricity blackout affecting Rustenburg North to the Modderfontein farm area. Almost five days later and many of these areas are either still waiting for electricity to be restored or have suffered erratic supply.

Businesses affected by these blackouts have had to either close or run on generators.

A transformer was hit by lightning resulting in another blackout. There is no spare transformer available to replace the damaged unit. Residents in these areas cannot pump water for personal use or for their animals or for irrigation.

In July 2020, the DA submitted a petition to NERSA, signed by residents living in the rural Rustenburg, requesting NERSA to enforce the distribution licensing conditions agreed to by the Rustenburg Local Municipality. The petition was shared with the then Municipal Manager, Victor Makona, by NERSA. Since 2020, numerous complaints of noncompliance by the municipality, resulting in widespread power failures and extended repair times were sent to NERSA, but the problems persist. The poor electricity supply and the repair time of faults has not improved. The last NERSA audit of the electrical infrastructure in Rustenburg was done in 2015.

Rustenburg residents suffer daily because of corrupt tenders and the lack of planning and poor maintenance by both the ANC governed local municipality and the ANC national government.

The fact is that the problems residents continue to experience in Rustenburg are due to the failures of the ANC in government. This would never be the case if Rustenburg was governed by the DA. Throughout South Africa, DA governments respond speedily to the concerns of residents, we plan effectively, we maintain and expand on infrastructure and we deliver quality basic services to all. We can do the same in Rustenburg.

Residents should register to vote DA to rescue not only their city, but the country.