By Sunday Elijah
South African Minister of Water and Sanitation Minister, Senzo Mchunu, has dissolved the Amatola Water Board and appointed a seven-member interim board whose tenure will be for a period of five months.
The Minister made the announcement at an engagement with Ministry’s stakeholders, among them the Eastern Cape provincial leadership and the Business Sector in East London.
According to him, the Ministry of Water and Sanitation was deeply concerned about the instability and governance challenges at Amatola Water as an entity, which has in turn, affected the provision of water to communities in the Buffalo City Metropolitan area.
He also said water supply by Amatola Water has been far below the growing demand in various parts of the province, stressing that this situation was indeed untenable.
The interim board will bring about stability to the water entity, in terms of its finances and governance, and will also extend the mandate of dealing with issues of water in the entire province.
The decision to dissolve the water board has been welcomed by the provincial government, and the Executive Mayors from Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, Amathole District Municipality, and Ndlambe Local Government. This also includes organised labour (South African Municipal Workers’ Union).
Mchunu also issued a plea to organised labour, noting that in order for the entity to be fully functional and capacitated, the board and management will need their support.
“We are pleading with you to constructively contribute to the stabilisation of Amatola Water. Do not allow yourselves to be drawn to issues that do not support the renewal of the entity. Let us all ensure that we make a difference in the lives of the people of the Eastern Cape,” he said.
The Minister also interacted with members of the community in Dimbaza, and stressed that the Ministry’s problems with Amatola Water should not negatively affect them as residents as the case has been.
He further emphasised that water – as a constitutional right – is also life, as per the department’s mantra.
Eastern Cape Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC, Xolile Nqatha expressed his appreciation for the Minister’s intervention.
“The interim water board will be critical in making decisions that will work towards the renewal of Amatola Water,” Nqatha said.
A meeting was convened on Friday evening, where members of the interim board were introduced to the management team of Amatola Water and the Department of Water and Sanitation.