30/11/2017 13:27 SAST | Updated 30/11/2017 15:32 SAST

Department Of Water Forbidden To Cut Off Defaulting Municipalities' Water

Parliament's water portfolio committee has nixed the DWS plan, giving three main stakeholders 14 days to find another solution to spiralling unpaid debt.

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

Parliament's portfolio committee on water has resolved that cutting the water supply of defaulting municipalities owing hefty amounts to the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) is not an alternative.

In a parliamentary statement, the committee has reassured the public that threatened water cuts from December 8, 2017, will not be implemented. The statement affirms that above everything else, the needs of the people should be considered.

"The committee has instructed the executive authority of the DWS, the National Treasury and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to devise within 14 days a viable plan to solve the longstanding challenge," the statement reads.

According to the statement, the committee also considers it unacceptable that 30 municipalities have been allowed to run up debts of about R10.7-billion owed to the DWS and water boards, saying that the culture of nonpayment has a long-term impact on the DWS's ability to effectively implement its mandate.

"The fact that this debt has increased over time without interventions is also alarming. This is concerning in the context of the increase of the equitable share to local government, from 3 percent in the 2000/01 financial year, to the current 9 percent."