DA in Tshwane slams ANC for 'playing political games' amid cholera outbreak

Sisanda Mbolekwa Politics reporter
Residents have complained that the tap water stinks and is not drinkable in Hammanskraal.
Residents have complained that the tap water stinks and is not drinkable in Hammanskraal.
Image: Shonisani Tshikalange

The DA in Tshwane has hit back at the Gauteng ANC after claims of “halfhearted co-operation” amid a cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal and accusations that the DA has resorted to its “typical defensive, buck-passing and finger-pointing exercises without accepting any responsibility”.

DA caucus leader Jacqui Uys said it was concerning that, amid a rapidly developing public health situation with all facts not yet known, the ANC is playing political games and shifting blame for the challenges at the Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant, rather than focusing on finding solutions.

“While we have yet to pinpoint the exact source of the outbreak, this situation underscores the need for us to scrutinise water quality in Hammanskraal. It is crucial we address the issues without the distraction of baseless accusations,” said Uys.

The DA leader said it was hard to overlook that the challenges at the Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant are linked to past management decisions and insufficient investment in infrastructure.

“The closure of the Temba water purification plant in August 2011, under the ANC's watch, was a significant setback for many residents and a clear indication of the deteriorating water quality,” she said.

Uys added that upon transitioning from the ANC to the mayoralty of Solly Msimanga, under a DA-led coalition, they had found water quality in Hammanskraal to be “alarmingly compromised”. Tests conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) had showed high concentrations of nitrites, nitrates and E coli in the tap water.

“Despite these inherited challenges, the multiparty coalition government has been proactive in addressing the water crisis. We have allocated resources to urgently deal with the infrastructure issues and aim to provide reliable water for Hammanskraal's residents.”

But she said overcoming years of infrastructural neglect required time, patience and sustained effort.

Uys alleged their requests for assistance from the ANC national and provincial governments have been unsuccessful.

“On April 14 2021, then-minister of human settlements, water and sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu visited the Rooiwal wastewater treatment works and committed the national government to assist the city in repairing the facilities.

“In October and November 2022, then-MMC for utilities and regional operations, councillor Daryl Johnston, again raised the matter with national government.

“Councillor Johnston indicated that Tshwane would require assistance, as the work needed at these facilities would come at a significant cost, well beyond the capacity of the City of Tshwane's budget. Despite these efforts, no adequate follow-up ever came from the ANC national government,” she said.

Uys said it was regrettable the ANC seemed more focused on political manoeuvring than on addressing the needs of the Hammanskraal residents.

“We urge the ANC to focus on the welfare of the people they represent. Let's acknowledge the issues and work together with the multiparty coalition government to find durable solutions for the water crisis in Hammanskraal.”

Uys added it was likely this situation of public health importance was not geographically limited to Hammanskraal, or the region.

“Across South Africa, billions of litres of sewage flow into rivers on a daily basis. The DA has on multiple occasions laid complaints with such entities as the SAHRC and the Green Scorpions. We cannot allow narrow political interests to divert from the magnitude of the challenge faced by millions, but now tragically highlighted by circumstances in Hammanskraal,” she said.

Hammanskraal residents, like all South Africans, deserved transparency, accountability, and genuine efforts to address their immediate concerns.

“It is time for the ANC to collaborate for the community's betterment.”


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