Since the start of mining on the Witwatersrand, the Vaal River system has been taken for granted, overworked, underinvested in and abused. The R8bn intervention announced by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to rescue the river system comes at a critical time for the economy of Gauteng -- and hence of South Africa and Africa.
Dhesigen Naidoo is CEO of the Water Research Commission, president of HumanRight2Water and a founding member of WaterPolicyGroup. He writes in his personal capacity.
The Vaal water system is not only the lifeblood of Gauteng, but also one of the most strategic water assets in the country and on this African continent, and a water management area of global significance. The water security it provides daily to 19 million people, more than a third of South Africa's population, almost masks the fact that it provides water security to power and sustain this 1.4% of South Africa's land area that generates close to 34% of its GDP and 10% of that of all of Africa. It is also the recipient of one of the world's biggest transfer schemes, from the highlands of neighbouring Lesotho.
And yet, since the start of mining on the Witwatersrand, this river system has...