[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Joburg water, sanitation reports
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sun May 4 12:36:38 BST 2008
(An amusing debate between left-sounding DA critic of awful sanitation -
given her party's role in fiscal pressure that mainly explains why the
ANC state and its WB advisors suggested 20% of SA go "VIP" - and the
local gov't spokesperson who apparently doesn't know municipal trucks
are carting away the shit from what sound very much like bucket toilets,
given that VIPs don't regularly get emptied.)
City council's township water-meter plans get flushed by high court judge
May 04, 2008 Edition 1
A historic judgment has consigned prepaid water meters to the dustbin of
history. It has also highlighted the attitude of the City of
Johannesburg to the plight of the majority of poor, uneducated, sick and
HIV/Aids-ravaged residents of Phiri township, Soweto.
The Johannesburg High Court has declared prepaid water meters unlawful
and unconstitutional. Five poor residents of Phiri, who have been in
dispute with the city for the past four years on behalf of themselves
and their community, have won the battle for their constitutional right
to free water. The application was heard over three days in December.
Judge MP Tsoka ordered the City of Johannesburg to provide a full range
of water-delivery options. The limitation of free basic water to the
present 6 kilolitres per household per month was set aside by the court,
and the City of Johannesburg and Johannesburg Water were ordered to
supply Phiri residents with 50 litres per person per day.
Judge Tsoka said: "Twenty-five litres per person per day is insufficient
for the residents of Phiri. … to expect the applicants to restrict their
water usage, to compromise their health, by limiting the number of
toilet flushes in order to save water, is to deny them the rights to
health and to lead a dignified lifestyle."
He found that the consultation leading to the adoption of prepaid meters
was inadequate and was "more of a publicity stunt than a consultation".
Tsoka said that it was the obligation of the city "to ensure that every
person had both physical and economic access to water".
He said that the introduction of the prepaid meters was procedurally
unfair. The judgment said that the by-laws, "other than as a penalty, do
not authorise the installation of prepayment meters".
The judge said that in "established democracies, prepaid water meters
are illegal as they violate the procedural requirement of fairness by
cutting off or discontinuing the supply of water without notice and
The policies ostensibly adopted to alleviate the plight of the poor in
Phiri "appear irrational and unreasonable as they are inflexible".
The underlying objective of the policies is to encourage the
installation of prepayment meters, which are unlawful. Also, the
policies are discriminatory because they differentiate between the
allowances of those who live in historically poor black areas and
historically richer white areas, said the judge.
While some residents in the previously privileged areas are entitled to
water on credit, as well as the free allocation of 6 kilolitres per
household per month, the Phiri residents are expected to pay for water
before it is used. This contravenes the right to equality laid out in
Tsoka said the argument that the poor Phiri residents would be otherwise
unable to use water and that the system was "good for them" was
patronising. He reminded the court that discrimination based on colour
"Bad payers cannot be described in terms of colour or geographical
areas. Bad debt is a human problem, not a racial problem," he said.
Moreover, the system of prepaid meters discriminated unfairly against
women, he said. The majority of poor black households, such as those of
the Phiri applicants, were headed by women. One of the Phiri applicants
had to walk 30km to fetch water.
To deny the applicants the right to water would perpetuate the
decades-long poverty, deprivation, want and undignified existence of the
Dale McKinley, a spokesman for the Coalition Against Water
Privatisation, said: "The city has egg on its face and is saddled with a
R320 million loan for prepaid meters that it now can't install.
"If the city had followed the writ of the law in implementing its water
services, consulted the community and listened to the voices of protest,
this would not be the case."
03/05/2008 15:10 - (SA)
Stench of empty promises
HUNDREDS of Gauteng residents are still subjected to the inhumane
bucket-toilet system despite promises by local government MEC Qedani
Mahlangu to eradicate the system by March this year.
Each week, residents of areas like Protea South, Kliptown and Ivory Park
have to endure an awful smell as a municipal truck drains and cleans
their ablution facilities. To them, this is just one of the
heart-rending reminders of empty promises made by government officials.
When the country was celebrating Freedom Day last week, they had nothing
One such resident is Ellen Sikojane (75), who has been living in Protea
South since 1982 and has lost all hope of ever using a proper toilet.
“I’ve been using the bucket-system toilets since I moved into this house
in 1982,” she says.
“When the new government took over, we thought things would change as we
were promised proper toilets but we were given plastic ones instead and
they are also bucket-system ones.”
Though she has a brick and mortar house, unlike her neighbours who live
in shacks, she still feels dehumanised by the bucket toilets.
“What we are going through is so sad. Having to endure the awful smell
every time the municipal truck comes to drain the toilets is killing us
but what can we do? We were promised toilets but we are still stuck with
these,” she says.
She is among hundreds of Gauteng residents who cheered when President
Thabo Mbeki announced that all bucket-system toilets would be eradicated
by last year.
This jubilation was later fuelled by Mahlangu and Gauteng premier
Mbhazima Shilowa, who promised in February 2006 that 12 000 bucket
toilets would be replaced before the end of last year.
“The bucket system has been a painful reminder of the indignity and
deprivation of the past. I am therefore pleased to announce that the end
of the bucket system in Gauteng is in sight. By the end of June this
year, all of the 12 000 identified buckets will have been replaced ahead
of the 2007 national target set by the president,” Shilowa said during
his 2006 budget speech.
Human Rights Commission spokesperson Vincent Moaga says: “It is
unacceptable that after the president made a promise that bucket-system
toilets would be eradicated there are still communities using the system.”
“It is unacceptable that the government cannot even meet its own target.
What would happen if the community was to set its own target?”
Sikojane’s neighbour, Dorothy Mahlangu, agrees and says: “These toilets
are very bad. They do clean them each week but we would prefer decent ones.”
Mahlangu is unemployed and spends some of her days making her own
charcoal so that she can cook, warm her shack and warm water for her
children in the morning. She has been searching unsuccessfully for a job.
“There are no jobs, no houses and making this charcoal is my only way of
ensuring that life is a little bit better here at home,” she says.
Protea South, like Kliptown about 5km away, has endured its fair share
of service delivery protests but these yielded no results either.
Like all the empty promises they have heard before, the residents have
little faith in Mahlangu’s promises of better toilets.
Democratic Alliance spokesperson for housing and local government Kate
Lorimer says the problem is worse in areas like Doornkop.
“There are much more sordid conditions. In Doornkop people use plastic
bags as toilets and this is just too bad,” she says.
She says she will raise the matter in the Gauteng legislature. “They
must account for this failure,” she says.
But local government spokesperson Themba Sepotokele maintains that
Gauteng has no bucket toilets.
“Those are not buckets but ventilated improved pit latrines – VIPs,” he
says. “All the 12 332 identified bucket toilets were eradicated and
replaced with either water-borne toilets or VIPs in Gauteng by the end
of June last year.”
Sepotokele says residents in areas like Protea South are using VIPs
because they are to be relocated to other areas. “The VIPs are provided
by the municipality in areas situated in unsuitable or dolomitic areas.
We can’t put permanent infrastructure there.”
But Lorimer is unimpressed.
“It is not good enough for bucket toilets to be replaced with either
chemical toilets or VIP ones. These are, in reality, no better than
bucket toilets,” she says.
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