The Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, must urgently intervene to save the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, which is on the verge of running out of water.
On 6 April 2020, the combined levels of the Metro’s supply dams were at 23,77% of capacity. Given the lack of rain forecast for the next six months, it is almost guaranteed that dam levels could drop below intake levels.
The City’s ANC-led administration has allowed the local State of Disaster declaration in relation to the drought to lapse as Day Zero approaches. The local State of Disaster was declared in December 2019, and the Disaster Management Act stipulates that such a declaration lapses after three months.
Failure to declare a disaster or in this case, extend a state of disaster can cause significant delays in procurement processes.
The City has already experienced several delays in implementing drought-related projects with the R200 million disaster-funding that the administration received for the 2019/20 financial year. The Metro is likely to forfeit a substantial portion of this funding at the financial year-end due to funds not being committed.
Even more concerning is the non-existence of a comprehensive communication plan on the looming disaster.
Given the dire state of affairs, I have approached my colleague in the Eastern Cape Legislature, Retief Odendaal, MPL, for assistance. He has written to Minister Sisulu and requested her to instruct departmental officials to interact with the Metro regarding its plans to address this crisis. We requested that the Department of Water issues a statement on the state of the drought in the Metro and the plans that are in place to mitigate this disaster.
MPL Odendaal has also submitted questions to the Eastern Cape MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Xolile Nqatha, and asked, amongst others what legal consequences the failure to timeously gazette an extension of a State of Disaster has on the municipality.
Last week MPL Odendaal also wrote to the Premier of the Eastern Cape, Oscar Mabuyane, and requested that he intervenes, but no answer has been received.
I also recently wrote to the Acting Executive Mayor, Cllr Tshonono Buyeye, and requested feedback on why the Local State of Disaster was allowed to lapse. Cllr Buyeye replied but did not give clarity on why the State of Disaster was allowed to lapse.
The DA will keep fighting to ensure that the interests of the public are safeguarded as water is of critical importance in our battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.