National government must deploy a senior official to assist in avoiding NMB Day Zero

Issued by Cllr Dries van der Westhuizen – DA NMB Spokesperson for Infrastructure and Engineering
19 May 2022 in Press Statements

Please find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Cllr Dries van der Westhuizen.

With Day Zero looming within 30 days for large parts of Nelson Mandela Bay, the time has come for national government to intervene and take over the running of the Infrastructure and Engineering Directorate.

While our dams are running dry and the residents are facing a very real humanitarian crisis, this essential directorate, in which the Water and Sanitation Sub-Directorate resides, is leaderless and rudderless.

Currently the Metro does not have a Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Infrastructure and Engineering, as he has been removed from council by his own party. The position of Executive Director for Infrastructure and Engineering has also been vacant for more than a year, whilst the acting director also recently stepped down.

I have, therefore, written to the Director-General of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and requested that a senior official or expert be seconded, not to act as an advisor, but to lead the Sub-Directorate for Water and Sanitation until this crisis has been mitigated. All officials, including the current Senior Director for Water and Sanitation, must also report to the seconded person.

This communication was also sent to the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

This secondment can be put in place by making use of Section 154(1) of the Constitution, which deals with “the support and strengthening of municipalities to manage their own affairs”.

It is now almost a mathematical certainty that the NMB storage dams will run dry within 27 days. Day Zero will prove to have disastrous consequences, as very few alternative plans are in place to provide water to at least a third of the Metro.

Almost none of the water augmentation and drought mitigation projects of the Metro will be completed before Day Zero is reached.

The DA has repeatedly made recommendations regarding innovative ideas to stretch our water resources, but our calls have not been heeded.

The Municipality is clearly incapable of dealing with this crisis and intervention by national government seems to be the only viable option in saving our residents from total disaster.

The ongoing drought poses a significant threat to our region’s population and to the economy.

The DA will do everything in its ability to assist residents in this time of crisis.