by Andrew Louw – DA Northern Cape Premier Candidate
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Date: 17 February 2019
The following is an extract from a speech delivered yesterday by the DA Premier Candidate, Andrew Louw, at a march in Kathu, in protest of the Gamagara water crisis, whereby a petition was handed over to Mayor Edwin Hantise, calling for an urgent intervention into the debilitating water situation.
Today, we are standing in unity as we take up a very serious cause that affects each and everyone of you living within the confines of the Gamagara municipality.
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Water scarcity is an ever growing problem in towns across South Africa and across the Northern Cape.
In many instances, drought conditions have aggravated the situation. In many instances, however, the government itself is by and large to blame for the deteriorating water situation in this province.
At present, there are at least five, if not more, ongoing water crises being experienced in the Northern Cape.
In Kimberley, residents have been experiencing nightly water cuts since last year. They are also receiving astronomical bills for water usage because Sol Plaatje municipality is not bleeding the air out of the pipes and residents are in turn being billed for air. Air in the pipes further lends itself to pipes bursting on a daily basis. The crisis is the result of a lack of vision on the part of the failing ANC municipality for the past ten years, to adequately plan for and invest in water infrastructure, including increasing the capacity of the water line from Riverton to Kimberley and increasing the volume of potable water.
In Kamiesberg municipality, a number of towns, including Kharkams, Garies, Lepelsfontein and even Kamieskroon, have been left high and dry for months, without provision of water for about four weeks already. As can be expected, this has had a detrimental impact on the local hospital, on schools and on business. The crisis has once again been aggravated by the failing ANC that has been unable to address internal management issues, including expenditure of R13 million on an incomplete desalination plant, that is slowly but surely becoming a white elephant.
In Postmasburg, the failing Tsantsabane municipality has, for an extended period of time, also failed to ensure an uninterrupted supply of water to residents and basic tasks, like flushing toilets and washing, have become a serious challenge. Once again, this water crisis is the result of the failure of the local municipality to give attention to infrastructure upgrades over the years.
In Philipstown, the community of Philipsvale has been left without water for two weeks. This water crisis has been coming along for the past three years. Worst of all is that the municipality doesn’t want to resolve the water issues, because this is a DA ward. In effect, this water crisis is also the result of failing ANC governance.
And then, right here in Kathu, we have a situation whereby residents have, for five months and counting, been deprived of their Constitutional right to water, often experiencing water cuts that last between two to four weeks at a time.
Once again, this is a manmade crisis, brought to you by the failing ANC government.
On numerous occasions, attempts have been made to get the municipality to intervene, but despite this crisis already continuing for almost half a year, no help has come from local, provincial or even national government.
Today, we have therefore come here to hand over a petition, signed by hundreds of residents, to Mayor Edwin Hantise, to show this municipality that the people of Gamagara have had enough.
Not surprisingly, Mayor Hantise decided to let our march convenors know yesterday that neither he nor the Speaker, will avail themselves to accept this petition, even though the request for them to grace this event with their presence was submitted a week ago.
In fact, they tried to get our DA councillor, Henriette Du Plessis, to accept this petition on their behalf.
Well, they must be crazy if they think that we are going to stand here today and have the DA accept responsibility for the ANC’s failures.
Their mere suggestion shows utter disregard for the concerns of the people of Gamagara and it is clear that the leaders of this municipality are more intent on playing political games than they are on helping you, the people of Gamagara.
Once again, the ANC government has failed each and everyone of us here today.
If they think that, by denying this crisis, it will go away, then they must think again!
People of Gamagara, Mayor Hantise and his cronies are afraid of standing here today because they are afraid that their lies might catch them out
They are keeping the truth from you and me. They have put the reservoir under lock and key so that we may not find out the true state of the water situation in Gamagara.
We will not accept this.
Today, we have come here to hold this failing ANC government accountable.
We want the Mayor to know that we know that he is withholding the truth from us.
We know that this municipality owes millions of rands to Sedibeng water. We know that financial mismanagement and abuse of municipal funds, has a big role to play in this tragedy. And we know that the failing ANC has created this Gamagara water crisis. But for whatever reason, we will never accept the violation of the basic human right to water.
The DA has referred this matter to the South African Human Rights Commission and I want to give you my assurance that the DA will continue to do whatever it takes to get your voices heard, so that help may come and you can once again receive the services that you deserve.
You must, however, remember that the DA remains an opposition party in the Northern Cape, which means that our hands are also tied.
So, if you want to see real change and you want a reliable and sustainable supply of water, you must cut the ANC’s power, just like they are cutting ours through load shedding, and rather lend your vote to the DA.
Empower us to help you!
Only change under a DA-led government, can bring back infrastructure maintenance, debt recovery and efficient financial management that will ensure uninterrupted services to the people of Gamagara and the people of the Northern Cape.