Media release by Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP and UDM President

As we approach Mother Earth Day, on the 22nd of April, the United Democratic Movement (UDM) deems it necessary that we, as South Africans, must acknowledge and understand the interdependence that exists among humans, animals, plants and the planet we inhabit. Especially the role that water plays in that interdependence.

South Africa’s years’ worth of drought, brought home the reality the we indeed live in a water scarce country. Water restrictions almost crushed some of our big cities – with those who live in informal settlements being hard-hit. The impact on our agrarian activities and industries as well as the ripple effect of job shedding as the drought continues, is devastating. The fact that our economy will take years to recover from the impacts of drought, not to mention other factors, is quite worrying.

This brings into question one of the issues the UDM believes has not been properly addressed i.e. planned sustainable development. The local, provincial and the national governments must all shoulder the blame for the mess in Cape Town and elsewhere in the country.

The backlogs still remain too large and the current infrastructure development is not keeping pace with rapid urbanisation, water storage and dam capacity. The UDM is of the view that all three ties of government should be working harder and together on managing arguably the scarcest resource in this beautiful country of ours: water.

Some of the salient points in the UDM’s policies around water are that:
• National and local governments, in particular, should work in concert.
• That sustainable household water supply must become a reality for every South African family, even though this is a local competency, government at higher levels must budget more efficiently.
• That national government must set standards for the treatment of water for human use and enforce these stringently.
• The development of irrigation schemes has been neglected.
• The catchment area research and large-scale infrastructure development in Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Eastern Cape must be commenced with as a matter of urgency. Currently vast quantities of water flow through the rivers of these regions, without being properly applied for agricultural or human needs.

In the end environmental management and practice should contribute to sustainable socio-economic development in South Africa, leading to a better quality of life for all. The utilisation of resources should happen in a balanced manner to promote this continued growth. The involvement of all role players in the making and implementations of all environmental legislation and regulations should be at the top of government’s agendas