Welcome to the Mpumalanga Provincial Government


Address by Honourable Premier TSP Makwetla at the Launch of the Water for All Flagship KwaMhlushwa Stadium, Nkomazi Municipality

12 March 2009

Programme Director
MEC for Local Government and Housing and Chairperson of the Governance and Administration Cluster, MEC Mashego-Dlamini
Members of the Executive Council
Executive Mayors of Ehlanzeni District Municipality and Nkomazi Local Municipality, Cllr. KC Mkhonto and Cllr. M Mavuso
Chairperson of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders, Inkosi SE Mahlangu
The Acting Director-General, Mr Mighty Mgidi, and Senior Managers in the Public Service
Our Government’s Social Partners
The people of Nkomazi and Mpumalanga as a whole
Ladies and gentlemen

On this important occasion marking the official launch of the Water for All flagship, we are buoyed by progress that the Province has already made in assisting households to have access to clean water. Access to clean and safe water is a fundamental human right that communities are entitled to.

Many of you will recall that as part of the "Big Five" flagship programmes announced in our 2007 State of the Province Address, the "Water for All" flagship was prioritised to ensure that communities have access to water services infrastructure and clean water by 2010. As a Province, we are cognisant of the fact that access to clean and safe water is vital for human development and poverty eradication. Lack of access to clean water is one of the major causes of water-borne diseases which cost human lives. Our focus on the provision of clean water and improved sanitation is intended to mitigate negative health impacts and improve the health profile of communities.

Colleagues, the launch of our flagship project to roll-out water infrastructure today, comes against the back-drop of the emergency health crisis we experienced recently with the outbreak of cholera in our province and elsewhere as a result of the contamination of our water sources.

In the province, 387 people have been confirmed through laboratory tests as cholera cases. To date, 30 people have lost their lives – 22 in Bushbuckridge municipality, 9 in Mbombela and 1 in Thaba Chweu.

If we are to prevent the spread of deadly diseases such as cholera, it is critical that our water purification infrastructure is effective to enhance water quality. It is also essential that sewerage plants and related infrastructure are upgraded to prevent possible contamination of water sources.

Programme Director, in our interaction with beneficiaries of some of the water projects we visited this morning, we were encouraged that the Province is making satisfactory progress towards ensuring that we address water service backlogs to improve the quality of life of citizens. For many citizens, life has changed for the better. Many of those who used to walk long distances to fetch water from natural sources now have access to clean tap water. In all our municipalities, we conducted assessments of water service backlogs and identified specific interventions to address problems related to lack of access to adequate and clean water.

Throughout the Province, we have made significant strides in addressing water services backlogs. The emerging picture is positive. As highlighted in the State of the Province Address this year, of 945,394 households, 72.7% have access to water at RDP level and above. The backlog of the number of households with inadequate access to water has been reduced to 257, 912, constituting 27.3% of the households in the Province. Of this amount, 3.5% households have no access to infrastructure at all. Our immediate priority is assisting these households who have no access to infrastructure at all.

Many of the households with no infrastructure at all reside in Nkomazi. It is critical that in Nkomazi we work hard to eradicate water service backlogs in 37,553 households. Our assessment of the operational status of water supply schemes in Nkomazi pointed to infrastructure operation and maintenance challenges as well as the dire need to extend water reticulation to areas with no access to safe and clean water.

As part of the implementation of the Water for All flagship, the Executive Council approved an initial allocation of R87 million towards the Nkomazi Water Intervention Plan aimed at addressing clean water supply challenges to impoverished and deprived areas of Nkomazi. Through the Water for All programme, we want to ensure that we provide bulk water supply and reticulation infrastructure to enable households who have no infrastructure at all to access clean water.

We will also focus on the refurbishment and upgrading of dilapidated reticulation and water treatment infrastructure to ensure that we improve access to clean water. It is a cause for optimism that as we officially launch the Water for All flagship today, water projects are under way in many areas of Nkomazi.

Programme Director, one of the critical success factors in ensuring sustainable water service delivery to communities is the existence of requisite institutional capacity to effectively manage, operate and maintain bulk water supply and reticulation infrastructure. Part of the Nkomazi Water Intervention Plan aims to strengthen the capacity of the Nkomazi Local Municipality with the intention to address issues such as staff capacity, financial management, customer care and water quality monitoring. In the meantime, a technical steering committee comprising Nkomazi Local Municipality, Ehlanzeni District Council, the Department of Water and Forestry and the Water for All Programme Management Unit has been established to monitor and address challenges in the implementation of water projects.

As communities, we have a responsibility to save water and jealously guard, as our own, the infrastructure that government has provided to improve our quality of life. Illegal connections and destruction of infrastructure will take us backwards and contribute to poor access to clean and safe water. As owners of the infrastructure, we must cherish and protect our community assets from vandalism and abuse. If there are issues to be resolved, we must communicate with councillors to ensure that challenges communities experience are resolved as speedily as possible.

In this regard, I am tempted to believe that for this infrastructure to serve us optimally in a sustainable manner, we need our own community-based supervisory and control structures to look after these services. This possibility, our municipality and councillors may want to explore, and by so doing, advance the maxim that community organisation is a requisite for community development.

Programme Director, I want to conclude by saying that as government we are committed to improving access to sufficient and clean water so that we avoid the negative impact engendered by lack of access to clean water on the health of communities. In addition to this, we must mobilise partnerships to raise awareness about the importance of keeping our environment clean to avoid contamination of our water sources. The battle to realise a better life for all citizens and communities in our province must be won.

In this work, nothing is as vital as collective concentration and single-mindedness on our duties, both as a province and all our municipalities.

I thank you.

Issued by Office of the Premier


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