In his move to ensure that there is bulk water supply in the province especially in the eight "stressed" municipalities greatly affected by water crisis, Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza has taken his initiative further by discussing the matter with Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa.
The Premier met the Minister yesterday Thursday, 1 November 2012 in Middelburg during the Provincial Mining Lekgotla and both have agreed on the need to provide water in the province.
The Premier briefed the Minister on the work he has done to date which includes assessing the water problems in the municipalities, identifying the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA) to assist solve the problem and ensuring the signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the provincial government, municipalities and MEGA.
The Premier explained to the Minister that although the main problem was the ageing infrastructure and the fact that in some areas population had expanded and the water treatment plants could not handle the demand.
He added that in some areas, municipalities were not permitted in term of their licences to draw more water from the sources to supply their extended communities.
"This problem of the lack of water is mainly affecting our communities in the villages. Although as a government we have made many strides in other things, people do not understand that for 18-years, we simply cannot give them water. People are prepared to pay for water, but it is just not there. I had set myself a timeframe that at least by 2014 more than 90 percent of the people in our province should have access to clean and drinking water," said the Premier.
Mabuza told the Minister that the affected municipalities were united around this problem and had declared to work together with the provincial government and MEGA.
The eight affected municipalities are Mkhondo, Albert Luthuli, Bushbuckridge, Nkomazi, Mbombela, Dr JS Moroka, Emalahleni and Thembisile Hani.
Meanwhile, Minister Molewa clarified to the Premier that her department had national programmes it was working on in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, North West and in Mpumalanga provinces.
She acknowledged that the problem was indeed huge but was happy that the Premier Mabuza had undertaken an initiative to deal with it.
"I am glad Honourable Premier that you have taken good leadership on this matter, it should be easy to move forward from here. As the national department, we have discovered something very painful that there are still villages and people who do not have either water or the infrastructure for the past 19 years. Our plans dictate that all people in our country should have drinking water by 2014," said Minister Molewa.
The Minister explained that her department had a 10-year Water Investment Plan which dealt with the entire water value chain, from the source where water is drawn up to the consumer. The plan also had quick wins which had been identified as key interventions.
The quick wins include the "filling-in project" which seeks to look at the existing infrastructure which lack connection to the sources such as dams and the rivers.
The other quick win is the Functionality Project which deals with water schemes which its infrastructure had never been serviced because of lack of electricity needed to pump water. The project also deals with fixing leaks which has caused a great financial loss to municipalities.
"We have undertaken to influence government that there should be no projects to be implemented without maintenance and operations budget allocation for sustainability purposes," said Minister Molewa.
Both the Minister and the Premier agreed to integrate their plans through a technical team formed during the meeting as a way forward in order to supply bulk water in the province.
Zibonele Mncwango, Spokesperson: Mpumalanga Premier
Cell: 079 491 0163
Tel: 013 766 2453
Issued by: Mpumalanga Office of the Premier
2 Nov 2012