South Africa News

Minister Senzo Mchunu slams Tshwane mayor Cilliers Brink over comments on metro’s cholera crisis

Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu has slammed Tshwane mayor Cilliers Brink’s assertions that he was quiet during the cholera crisis that rocked Hammanskraal last month.

The area north of Pretoria was plunged into a crisis following a cholera outbreak, that claimed the lives of more than 20 people.

In addition, the metro has recently been through a spate of water shortages, triggering a blame game between local and national governments.

Tshwane is led by the DA mayor through Brink, while the ANC’s Mchunu heads the water ministry.

At the height of the crisis Brink initially blamed Mchunu for being “silent” while people were suffering from the outbreak.

However, speaking to the Pretoria News last week, Mchunu dismissed Brink’s assertions, saying he was surprised by this attitude that he was quiet during the crisis and the water woes the municipality was facing.

“I don’t know what the mayor (Brink) is referring to when he says that I am quiet or silent.

“We are in conversation with the mayor and the last time we were in conversation was hardly two weeks ago.

“We were actually in a meeting dealing with progress that we are making as far as Hammanskraal is concerned following the major tragedy (cholera outbreak).”

He said part of the discussions with Brink were the upgrading of the Rooiwal water plant, suspected to be the source of the cholera outbreak.

“So I am talking; I am not silent. I don’t know what the mayor is talking about,” Mchunu said.

He appealed to municipalities to pay attention to leaking pipes as a measure to preserve water before a commission of 150 megalitres is provided.

“We encourage municipalities, including Tshwane, to concentrate on leaks and non-revenue losses including leaks so that when we commission the additional 150 megalitres it makes an immediate difference,” he said.

Last Thursday the community of Soshanguve woke up to no water in their taps.

Addressing the matter, Mchunu said it may be that the township was affected by the ongoing maintenance period Rand Water had commissioned.

“Rand Water was doing maintenance last week, particularly Eikenhof that distribute water to Tshwane among others … so Soshanguve could have been affected by that maintenance.”

Meanwhile, the Pretoria Sakekamer has slammed both Rand Water and the municipality for blaming each other for the metro’s water problems.

In a statement, the forum warned that both Rand Water and the municipality “were skating on thin ice and were risking legal action if they did not resolve their ongoing disputes over water supply and payments”.

“The Pretoria Sakekamer refers both parties to the prescribed interdepartmental process, in terms of the Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations Act (Act No 97 of 1997) that must be followed. That this process must be followed has already been confirmed by a judgment in the Constitutional Court.

“Both Rand Water and the municipality must take note that the damage suffered by businesses in Pretoria due to the water crisis, cannot be tolerated any longer.

“The parties must follow the prescribed guidelines of the law and stop holding paying water users hostage. Both parties run the risk of incurring huge legal costs.

“On the face of it, this is something neither party can afford and it is clearly in the interest of all that the prescribed processes are followed immediately,” said Fergus Ferguson, chairperson of the Pretoria Sakekamer.

The statement comes after assertions by Brink that poor communication and inadequate notifications from Rand Water leave Tshwane city management with inadequate time to plan or prepare for water interruptions.

“Water outages have been almost a monthly phenomenon in Pretoria since August last year and it is becoming apparent that the lack of communication about and insufficient reasons for the water outages can be seen as a bullying tactic by Rand Water to put pressure on the Tshwane municipality over their overdue water bill of at least R544 million,” Ferguson said.

“Rand Water must improve their communication with the Tshwane municipality. While Pretoria received almost no notice the week before last of the water interruptions that would follow, Rand Water continues to fail to give timely warning or reasons for ongoing water interruptions in Pretoria.”

-Pretoria News

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