Johannesburg – President Cyril Ramaphosa has blamed corruption as being a significant contributor in the water and drought crisis currently facing the country.
Writing in his weekly newsletter ‘From the desk of the President’, Ramaphosa says the country will need around R126-billion to build water infrastructure to ensure future water security.
He said the government had already provided R260-million to address drought this year, including support to farmers to purchase fodder, reticulate water for livestock and for dam distilling.
“Given the severity of the crisis, this amount is woefully inadequate. Disaster Management is working with provinces and municipalities to see how they can reprioritise their budgets for relief and recovery,” Ramaphosa said.
He said, with the dwindling supply of fresh water, the government would be spending the R126-billion on project that broadened the country’s water remix.
“For example, Phase 1 of the uMkhomazi Water Project will prioritise the re-use of effluent, and projects like the Groot Letaba Water Augmentation Project in Limpopo and the Mzimvubu Water Project in the Eastern Cape will develop groundwater sources,” he said.
He however lamented that the government efforts were being undermined by mismanagement of water resources and corruption in the water sector.
“Serious accountability and governance issues persist, whether it is in the building of infrastructure or at a municipal level, where water losses are mounting as a result of billing errors, unauthorised usage and outright theft
“Just a week ago, the Special Investigating Unit raided Lepelle Northern Water in connection with alleged corruption at the Giyani Water Project. The amount allegedly involved – R2 billion – is staggering, but unfortunately symptomatic of wide scale tender corruption in these mega projects,” Ramaphosa said.
He urged government spheres would enforce accountability as part of restoring integrity into the sector.