By: Hon. Nhlanhla P. Msimango; IFP MPL
KwaZulu-Natal Legislature; Pietermaritzburg
KwaZulu-Natal faces disaster
Hon. Speaker and Hon. Members; KwaZulu-Natal is staring disaster in the face! Since the IFP moved the motion describing water shortage as “a danger creeping into our country,” the situation has deteriorated to be so dire; to an extent that water shortage is now a disaster waiting to happen any moment. Unless conditions change and unless there is decisive leadership, very soon we shall reach a point of no return! Let all South Africa get this straight: without it no living thing will survive.
This is the background against which the IFP asked this House to set time aside to discuss this tragedy and seek strategies to escape the impending disaster. Hence our Motion which is before this House today which reads:
“This House notes:
The danger of the shortage of water that is creeping into our country, and which, that could threaten the lives of all that is created, should it worsens. It is saddening however that despite this danger which threatens our country, there is still a lot of negligence demonstrated by our people who do not care to participate in the water conservation campaigns.
“This House resolves:
a) To urge each and every member in our communities to commit themselves to conserving water and to rebuke and warn those who are negligent and are not aware that the situation is dreadful.
b) To urge senior officials of the provincial government and municipalities to work tirelessly to fix all leaking water pipes.”
Government and Citizens to blame
The IFP agrees that no human being has the magic wand to either cause the rain to fall or to stop it. However what concerns us is that – while there are natural causes of drought – humanity has had a contribution as well, to the situation in which we find ourselves. Both the government and citizens have not done enough to ensure that whatever little water we have is used wisely and sparingly.
KwaZulu-Natal has always known that water is not a commodity that we have in abundance in our country. Yet government has not paid focused attention to seeking alternative and innovative ways to deal with the problem. It is a fact for instance that some water shortage is due to neglect of infrastructure maintenance and the “I-don’t-care” attitude which fails to treat water problems as an emergency.
To make an example, everyday each South African uses about 9 litres of potable water which goes down the drain every time they use a toilet. It is time government looked at alternative methods of flushing toilets because, if we continue to use these old methods we will guarantee water shortage in the near future. Indeed government must spearhead efforts to generate new sanitation solutions which are sustainable and will meet our current and future needs.
In addition, other litres of water are wasted every-day in car-wash businesses, domestic cleaning services and in water leaks which one comes across especially in residential areas.
Figures indicate that we are already using 98% of our available water supply. This must be stopped if we are to be able to face the challenge of water-shortage. In fact reports indicate that about 37% of our clean, drinkable water is being lost through inefficient ways of using water such as leaking pipes and dripping taps.
Yet the public, generally, does not have a sense of responsibility which prompts them to treat water leaks as an emergency that must be reported urgently. And some officials also worsen the situation by not responding urgently to reported water leaks.
Government to Intensify Water Campaign
The IFP submits therefore that it is upon the shoulders of government to intensify an awareness campaign among all communities, not in a haphazard way; but as a well-coordinated on-going campaign. Such a campaign must also issue very strong warnings against those who are negligent in their usage of water.
On top of that, government must put in place measures to regulate the use of water with a view to conserve it. We believe that some of the measures that were implemented by ILembe Municipality would help the water-conservation campaign if they were to be applied consistently throughout the Province – whether or not there is drought. Listed are some of these measures:
a) Total ban of hosepipes for washing vehicles, bicycles, motorbikes, boats, trailers and small planes
b) Stopping the washing of buildings or structures other than for immediate fire control or protection.
c) Water leaks to be repaired within 24 hours.
d) Golf courses to be disallowed to use potable water for irrigation
e) Irrigation systems using the potable water system to be turned off.
f) Fountains and water features to be disconnected from potable water supply.
g) Pools to be topped up once a month and communities to be discouraged from building new swimming pools.
h) Pressure management to be introduced to curb consumption and hence lower water pressure may be experienced.
But above that, government must seriously apply penalties against any person who is seen to be negligent in the way they use water. And officials of both the provincial government and municipalities must also play their role by working tirelessly to urgently fix leaking water pipes.
Call for Urgent Conference
However, of more importance is that the Province must convene an urgent conference on this threatening disaster before it consumes all of us! That conference must objectively dissect the problem and come up with decisive action steps that must be implemented now to rescue KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa from the impending abyss.
Otherwise, the future of our Province is bleak!