Minister Sisulu to take away Emfuleni municipality powers to fix Vaal river mess


By: Sello Theletsane

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has received the report of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) into the state of waste water treatment in the Vaal River.

The report comes three weeks after Sisulu took a decision to invoke Section 63 of the Water Act, 1997, which will effectively see the Department of Water and Sanitation taking over the water infrastructure of the Emfuleni Local Municipality after the municipality failed to perform functions imposed on it by the Act.

The SAHRC released its report this week after looking into the state of wastewater treatment in the area following several reports of raw sewerage flowing into the Vaal River, which affected the drinking water of 45% of Gauteng’s population.

The SAHRC subsequently gave various stakeholders 60 days to respond after it found that the continued flow of raw sewerage in the Vaal and homes and public areas in the Emfuleni local municipality was a violation of human rights.

“We have received the report of the SA Human Rights Commission on the Vaal River, said Minister Sisulu.

“We have taken note of all issues raised in the commission’s report and we will seek audience with the commission.”

“It is common cause that Water and Sanitation Department has been involved in the attempts to resolve the problems in the Vaal, all spheres of government have been deeply involved. For the past year, I’ve been in extensive discussions with the local community and the business people in the area about the same matter,” Minister Sisulu said.

“Today, I met Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and briefed her on our decision and on the matters raised by the SA Human Rights Commission. We are happy that we and the SA Human Rights Commission are in agreement that Section 63 of the Water Act, 1997 is the only solution to the problem.”

Minister Sisulu said Water and Sanitation Department is at an advanced stage of preparing the required Cabinet Memorandum in order to get Cabinet approval for the takeover.