Eastern Cape Drought – Provincial Government has no plans

Issued by Retief Odendaal, MPL
Shadow MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform

The ANC provincial government today have made it clear that, when it comes to addressing the crippling drought that the province is facing, they are leaving the people of this province to fight for themselves.

The Democratic Alliance appealed to Premier Oscar Mabuyane to disclose his contingency plans, if any, to assist water-scarce municipalities with the drought crisis and declare a disaster area for the province during a sitting of the Eastern Cape Legislature this morning.

Rather than address the issue at hand, the MEC of COGTA, Xolile Nqatha, responding on behalf of the Premier, accused the DA of political point scoring, then proceeded to inform the House exactly how inadequate the response by Government has been.

The procurement of just 5 000 water tanks and five water trucks over the past two financial years is all the MEC could mention regarding the provincial government’s response to the worst drought the province has faced in recorded history.

MEC Nqatha at least acknowledged that climate change is real, but his government has done very little, if anything, to take steps to address the impacts thereof.

In a capable state, government would take proactive steps to mitigate risks brought to its attention, such as the in-depth report nearly a decade ago that highlighted the very risks currently being faced by the province.

Instead, MEC Nqatha assured members of the legislature that dam levels had recovered, yet the catchment dams supplying Nelson Mandela Bay yesterday dropped to below 15%. The Kouga Dam, Nelson Mandela Bay’s largest storage dam, is currently at an all-time low of 5.7% of total capacity.

Buffalo City has had punitive stage three water restrictions in place since November 2019, and sections of the metro have gone weeks – if not months – without water.

Municipalities elsewhere in the province, such as Dr Beyers Naude, Ndlambe, Kouga and Mnquma, are experiencing crippling water shortages.

MEC Nqatha referred to the disaster declaration in October 2019, however the Premier has long since allowed this declaration to lapse, despite the drought conditions in the eastern half of the province getting progressively worse, since then.

The DA has repeatedly called on Premier Oscar Mabuyane to declare the Eastern Cape a drought disaster area so that the province can stand in line for some much-needed disaster funding from national government.

We have a humanitarian crisis on our hands, and this government has failed to put any plans in place to deal with the unfolding crisis.

The DA will continue to fight and put pressure on the provincial government to take the appropriate steps to ensure water security for the people of this province.