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South Africa is facing a serious water problem on many levels. Last year, Cape Town almost ran out of drinking water due to a crippling drought and in areas of the Karoo; farmers talk about an arid future due to climate change that has arrived early. In 2019, only 3 inches of rain fell in Calvinia, the lowest rainfall since the early 1800s, a local farmer told Bloomberg. Added to that, is the inability of many municipalities to supply their residents with clean drinking water leading to some local residents, including farmers and black communities taking matters into their own hands. An example of this is Harrismith, where farmers and the local black community set out to fix water supply and other issues in the town that the local council could not repair due to gross misspending and an allegedly corrupt mayor. The lack of clean drinking water to communities has also led to protests in various parts of the country. But over the local issues, hangs a cloud in the form of corruption on national government level, that Corruption Watch Executive Director, David Lewis calls a ‘woman-made problem’ in a recent report, titled, Money down the Drain. He is referring to former Minister of Water Affairs, Nomvula Mokonyane. Under her watch the Department of Water Affairs had, according to a report by the Auditor-General of South Africa collapsed, with billions of rands of irregular expenditure, huge debts and failed projects. An example of this is the Giyani Water Project that grew from a R502m project to R2.7bn in a year because of irregular contracts. South Africa’s water problem is according to John Kane-Berman a man-made crisis and he suggests that independent water producers similar to those in the energy sector could be the answer. First published in Daily Friend. – Linda van Tilburg
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