17/11/2017 04:42 SAST | Updated 17/11/2017 04:42 SAST

Cabinet On Drought: SA Not Yet Out Of The Woods

Current dam levels in the country remain a concern.

Reuters - ç near Cape Town.

Insufficient rainfall means the country is not yet out of a drought situation, government communication acting director-general Phumla Williams said on the outcomes of a Cabinet meeting in Cape Town.

"The current dam levels in the country remain a concern as there is more evaporation than rainfall," she said.

"The fact that South Africa has not received sufficient rainfall to recharge our water sources to adequate levels means that the country is not yet out of the drought situation. Forecasts predict that the country will only receive its major rainfall from the beginning of January 2018."

Parts of the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal are under water restrictions following a drought.

"Cabinet wishes to assure the public that national, provincial and local government are cooperating and working together to ensure South Africa does not run out of water," said Williams.

"Cabinet encourages everyone to play their part in saving and using water wisely and sparingly."

The Times reported on Monday that collapsing infrastructure is a contributor to the drought crisis, with South Africa needing an extra R30-billion to bridge the water-infrastructure gap.

South Africa reportedly has a water deficit of 38 billion cubic metres per year, and its underground water reservoirs are in danger of evaporating.

In Beaufort West in the Western Cape, 20% of the municipal water is recycled sewage while the local dam is empty, the publication reported. Outside taps are frequently stolen and residents are only able to bath once a week.

In Dopeni in Limpopo, residents reportedly have to buy water from those who have boreholes while in Mpumalanga, reports have emerged of water shortages for four years.

The Water Research Council's Jo Burgess told The Times: "We are in trouble, big trouble... We are just going to have to adapt. It's very frightening."

Last week, The Citizen reported that the Ugu District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, which includes Port Edward and Port Shepstone, was struggling to ensure normal water supply. The municipality is reportedly struggling to fix ageing water infrastructure, and the problem has been made worse by a water services strike by municipal employees.

Residents complained that they could not shower or flush their toilets, but that they were told not to tell people from Johannesburg about the crisis as this would affect tourism over the festive season.

The City of Cape Town is facing a major water shortage crisis, with fears that there could be no water in the City by March next year.

At the end of October, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba approved a request by the City of Cape Town to forego some regulatory requirements in making budgetary changes to speed up measures to mitigate the drought, according to Eyewitness News.

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille has promised that the City would not run dry.