Civil society asks Parliament for water regulator law
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse and Water Shortage South Africa believe that the unresolved national water crisis constitutes a powerful case for an Independent Water Regulator, and call on Parliament to prioritise its establishment.
The water crisis is characterised by:
(1) Failing municipal infrastructure;
(2) A lack of long-term planning and implementation;
(3) The growing failure of sewage treatment plants across the country; and
(4) The lack of accountability of authorities.
The organisations sent a letter to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, asking the committee to consider its reports and suggestions to formulate the legislative requirements to establish an independent water regulator.
It is our view that had a regulator been active, then municipalities would not have run up so much debt and water infrastructure would not have failed to the extent it has. The widespread failure of municipalities indicates the failure of the existing regulatory framework. If we are to create the jobs we need for social stability, we cannot rely on the existing regulatory structure that has so patently failed us.
The implementation of the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan is also contingent on the bankability and sustainability of the infrastructure rollout, with independent regulatory certainty as a key catalyst.
The Department of Water and Sanitation cannot be both player and referee. We are of the view that the department has failed in its duty to hold to account transgressors who were responsible for the decay of municipal infrastructure, and failure of water provision and water quality.
Both OUTA and Water Shortage South Africa believe that the 6th Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation is the correct vehicle to ensure the establishment of this much-needed entity that could have a significant positive effect on livelihoods, especially those of poor and vulnerable communities, by ensuring good governance in the water sector.
An independent water regulator, as we intend to propose it to the Committee, would be expected to treat criminal conduct without fear or favour. Gross negligence, such as pollution of our scarce resources, should result in serious consequences for polluters as well as those government officials under whose watch such negligence takes place without requisite disciplinary proceedings.
The organisations hope to meet with the Committee to present their thoughts and are willing to help Parliament draft the policy for a regulator.
A copy of the organisations’ letter to the Committee is here.