Water crisis: Calls for constitutional revamp

A special EWN investigation yesterday revealed the state of South Africa's water crisis.

An Eyewitness News investigation has revealed how several South African communities wait up to 10 hours for a single bucket of water. Picture: Reinart/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Calls have emerged for the Constitution to be amended to allow national government to take more control of managing South Africa's water supply and distribution.

Yesterday, Eyewitness News presented the findings of a special investigation into the state of South Africa's water crisis.

The investigation explored claims of corruption, pollution and fortunes being made through selling clean water.

The probe also looked at historic problems and migration patterns of communities.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has also been asked to conduct a comprehensive audit of water infrastructure and delivery.

Water expert Mike Muller says South Africa isn't on the doorstep of an Eskom-style crisis but corruption and incompetence at municipalities will cause more and more problems down the line.

"I think it is time that we need to consider a constitutional amendment that gives national government greater powers to intervene when there are clear cases of management failure."

EWN's investigation found communities who wait almost an entire day to fill their buckets, bathe in polluted streams and report developing skin rashes and other illness.

It also explored the booming business of selling clean drinking water to poor communities and saw Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa describe the situation as a "mammoth problem".

Meanwhile, Deputy Director General at the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs Trevor Balzer says the water issue in South Africa is not a crisis but a mammoth challenge.

Balzer spoke to Talk@Nine on Monday about the EWN investigation.

Balzer said, "We're trying to deal with the problem and people need to look at the context of what the department has delivered since 1994."

He stressed that despite the mammoth response to the water issue, it's not representative of the country.

"From 1994 to 2013 we have supplied 95.2 percent of the population with water. One of the issues we have to deal with, however, is that in the rural areas and smaller municipalities 48 percent of water infrastructure doesn't work.

"That is due to the municipalities not having engineers, technicians and artisans to deal with the breakdown of the infrastructure. We are also dealing with the legacy of the rundown infrastructure," Balzer argued.

The deputy director general also claimed that communities that have access to water outweigh those who don't have water supply, so it's not a crisis but rather a mammoth task.