South Africa: Stemming the Tide - Senzo Mchunu Battles Ongoing Water Crisis While Confronting His Party


The provision of potable water could soon be a political issue comparable to load shedding. While some of the problems appear insurmountable, there is evidence that Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu is trying to fix what he can, even if that means sparking political disputes with people in his party.

The ongoing water crisis and apparent efforts to sort it out may provide an opportunity for the private sector to play a greater role in the provision of water for municipalities.

Last week, the City of eThekwini told residents it would not meet a deadline imposed by Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu to resolve water problems in Verulam, Phoenix and other areas in the north of the city. The statement followed water outages that had continued for at least two months.

Community members said Mchunu imposed the deadline on the council at a community meeting.

It was the latest development in a long-running dispute between the council and Mchunu over water problems.

In particular, eThekwini has been unable to stop the pumping of raw sewage into rivers that run into the ocean, forcing the municipality to close beaches.

As Daily Maverick's Tony Carnie has reported in depth, this became a political issue when ActionSA lodged a court application suggesting the City of eThekwini was criminally liable for the sewage that pollutes rivers in that area.

At the time, council officials tried to blame the floods that ravaged KZN in 2022. However, evidence presented in the case showed...

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