AfriForum raised its concerns today about the general lack of political will displayed by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) to find local solutions to the ongoing water and sanitation problems that currently have the country on its knees. AfriForum’s concerns come after Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s answers to a series of parliamentary questions about the remuneration, qualifications and responsibilities of the 25 Cuban engineers who were recently appointed.

According to Lambert de Klerk, Manager of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum, the civil rights organisation recently sent comprehensive recommendations to the minister and her team. “Just like most other state departments, the DWS is paralysed and simply not competent enough to implement sustainable solutions in the country’s municipalities to deliver water and sanitation services that communities have a right to. AfriForum’s recommendations for interventions on various levels are workable; yet the DWS’s echoing silence on the matter says a lot,” De Klerk says.

“AfriForum’s recent participation in the management of water and sanitation plants in Koster through its services company Pionier made it perfectly clear that communities and local experts  are willing and competent to ensure sustainable interventions. Legislation allows for community/public partnerships, for example, but the will lacks in municipalities and state departments alike.

“Local solutions for local problems are a reality. AfriForum’s 155 country-wide branches are ready to support the DWS and municipalities; the expertise that Sisulu wants to importing is immediately available among our member base and networks,” De Klerk says.

However, municipalities and municipal managers have been declared untouchable by the ANC. State departments are too scared to bring the intricate network of deployed cadres to book. “While the minister is appointing Cubans and is apparently planning on appointing a few more, our dams, rivers and street are overflowing with sewage. It is a sad day when the hand that provides solutions is slapped away because established interests and outdated ideologies are to be protected,” De Klerk concludes.

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