Address by Mr LB Gaehler MP in the National Council of Provinces in the debate on Local Government: “Moving with utmost speed to provide water and sanitation to our people and eliminate the bucket system”

Honourable Chairperson
Honourable Members

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) supports attempts by government to increase the speed at which the restoration of people’s dignity by amongst others providing quality, clean water to the people and quality sanitation and eradication of the remaining bucket toilets in our communities. Surely we can’t afford to always shift the target on this matter as it borders on constitutional rights.

The 2012 Fourth Quarter Statistic South Africa Report, revised in October 2013 and released in May 2014, reveals amongst others, the following important information on this subject.

• Out of 90.8% of South African households with access to piped water in 2012, only 79% of Eastern Cape households enjoyed such access. Although, we agree that this is an improvement compared with 56.3% of 2002, this gap affects more the most vulnerable and impoverish rural citizens and further expose them to other opportunistic deceases when the health systems is also in a state of collapse. There delayed intervention in this regards has multiple other social and economic consequences.

• Nationally, 60.1% of households rated the quality of water-related services they received as ‘good’. However, this satisfaction rate is lower than the 76.4% recorded in 2005. Residents of Free State, Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape are reported to have consistently been least satisfied with the quality of water. Once again, the poor quality of water has adverse consequences for the social and economic wellbeing of the people and in particular rural citizens of the mentioned provinces.

• The percentage of households with no toilets or bucket toilets decreased from 12, 3% in 2002 to 5, 3% in 2012. Households in the Eastern Cape accounts for 13, 4%, Mpumalanga (6, 4%) and Limpopo (6, 3%) were reported to be most likely to lack access to toilet facilities or to still use bucket toilets.

The former, Minister of Human Settlement in her response to the Human Rights Commission report on Water and Sanitation in March 2014 said, “as government we have tirelessly worked in our quest to restore our people’s dignity, through, amongst other things, the Bucket Eradication Programme…..phase one of BEP will see the eradication of buckets in formalised townships of the Free State, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape. ….these provinces have the highest volume of bucket toilets….phase two will ensure the eradication of buckets in each of the South Africa’s nine provinces”.

These commitments, Madam Chairperson, must at all times guide government commitment to the restoration of people’s dignity.

At the centre of this programme is the immediate attention to be given to water and sanitation infrastructure in terms provision, upgrading and of regular maintenance. In some instances you have taps in communities where there is not a drop of water.

The current sanitation infrastructure crisis confronting the ordinary citizens of Makana Local Municipality as well as the reported water infrastructure syndicate in KZN must receive an immediate attention and intervention as they are but just a tip of an iceberg on what maybe a greater challenge in an attempt to move with speed and provide water and sanitation to the people and in particular the rural poor.

This infrastructure improvement and maintenance must be designed such that they also create local job opportunities and skills development. If deliberately, skills are developed and transferred to local people, then maintenance of water generators and other related matters can be transferred to ownership of local people. This approach will also ensure effective and direct democratic participation of citizens at local level.