Water woes: 'SA didn't invest enough in infrastructure for what is basic right'

Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu is tasked with the unenviable job of cleaning up the troubled water department.

She tabled a R16bn budget vote on Tuesday, after the department ran out of money in 2018.

Speaking to 702's Bongani Bingwa, the minister refused to put the blame on former minister Nomvula Mokonyane, saying problems relating specifically to infrastructure date back to the apartheid government

The infrastructure we inherited in 1994 was meant essentially to cater for 13% of the population. It now has to cater for 100%.

Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister - Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation

The country has not invested enough in the infrastructure to deal with what is now a basic right.

Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister - Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation

My job is to fix this problem.

Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister - Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation

Sisulu says, over time, the department has been trying to address the situation by reaching the required standard and that is going to require a huge turnaround strategy.

Among what she calls a multiplicity of problems, the core issues are a shortfall in funding and an inherited infrastructure that is ageing.

The base of it is we do not have enough money, we do have a very bad reputation in the public domain about how we've been using our money. We can't go to our people and say - we don't have money, we have problems of infrastructure that we're dealing with.

Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister - Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation

The minister acknowledges that there have been failures of leadership under the current government, but says playing the blame game is pointless.

Sisuslu wants to concentrate on solutions that will give South Africans the dignity they deserve.

She feels ongoing investigations into particularly senior management, has had the effect of lowering morale and taking away focus from the work at hand.

We understand the problem. Why don't we move forward and work out what it is that we are going to do?

Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister - Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation

When we have completed those investigations we will make our findings public.

Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister - Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation

Asked about the many municipalities that are unable to supply residents with water, Sisulu had this to say:

We service our people at municipal level through the municipalities and unfortunately their state is not such that they would have the efficiency that we would require or the people would require. We're working with Cogta (Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs) around how to make sure our municipalities have the efficiencies that we need.

Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister - Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation

What we have done is to establish in the department a construction and an engineering unit that will be able to assist municipalities to deal with any problems that they encounter... We have just put in place an inspections unit that will from the 1st of August go and check what the problems are.

Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister - Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation

For more on the Water and Sanitation Department's plans, listen below:


This article first appeared on 702 : Water woes: 'SA didn't invest enough in infrastructure for what is basic right'


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