Free State rocked by disastrous drought and water management
19 November 2019
Municipalities together with the provincial government in the Free State have failed their residents regarding disaster drought relief.
Replies from the MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Mr Thembeni Nxangisa and Premier Sisi Ntombela confirm that local municipalities failed to submit requests for disaster drought relief.
Only Mangaung Metro Municipality received an amount of R233 million for disaster drought relief.
The DA will submit follow up questions to determine why local municipalities failed and how the money allocated to Mangaung was spent.
Questions to the Premier regarding water scarcity received a vague reply that indicate that the province has no co-ordinated plan to deal with ongoing water related problems.
The inability of municipalities in the Free State to deliver safe and reliable water supplies are not only drought related, but also due to the lack of planning, poor management and no infrastructure maintenance.
Instead of acknowledging the problems faced by residents in municipalities, the Premier opted to pass the buck with the statement that: “The right to sufficient water is an exclusive national legislative competence”. She indicated that the province only assists with “portable water supply systems”.
The DA wrote to the Premier on 17 January 2019, requesting that the Free State be declared a drought disaster area. This was complied with on 22 February 2019.
Since then, however, neither local municipalities nor the agricultural sector have received the necessary assistance from the provincial government.
While the DA-run Western Cape provincial government has allocated R50 million for drought relief, the MEC for Finance in the Free State, Ms Gadija Brown, indicated that a meagre R6 million will be approved for among other goods and services the drilling of bore holes.
It is clear that the Free State is fast reaching rock bottom regarding funds to support residents of the province when disaster strikes, and that natural disasters will inevitably become human disasters regarding their impacts on the most basic requirements of food and water.
Issued by Roy Jankielsohn, DA Leader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Legislature, 19 November 2019