Tshwane leaders brought death to Hammanskraal

By Oupa Ngwenya

Tshwane leaders brought death to Hammanskraal Oupa Ngwenya As it has become a standard refrain, South Africa’s politicians miss no moment to tell how the country’s world best constitution provides all things bright and beautiful for the communities but regrettably do little to take appropriate action to match lofty promises to ensure with deeds that citizens are not placed in harm’s way.

The rising death toll of the residents of Hammanskraal due to water-borne disease is tragic. By the time of going to print, the number of people who had died stood at 22. Are the offerings of the constitution a stranger to the community of Hammanskraal?

Or does the golden promise of a better life exclude potable water safe for human consumption? What good then is a constitution so revered, if those that quote its chapter and verse with eloquent ease are bereft of compassion to manifest a true picture of what it provides by ensuring that communities have easy access to clean water.

The cry for clean drinking and cooking water in Hammanskraal is not a new demand – it goes back to 2010. The soccer World Cup spectacular came and left. In the fields of play, all worked with clockwise predictability to see SA prove itself to be a deserving host for the world event.

In the 13 years that saw presidents Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa transfer power to each other, the supply of potable water for the Hammanskraal residents has neither been smoother or clearer.

For a country ranked as one of the 12 countries in the world where it is predictably safe to drink water from the tap, it is a great tragedy why such a laudable feat is not finding its way to Hammanskraal, a village within reach of the country’s administrative capital.

Considering that one of the key messages of the department of water and sanitation is that water is life and sanitation is dignity, how come this does not hold for Hammanskraal?

During DA’s Solly Msimanga’s tenure as executive mayor of Tshwane in 2019, the project’s costs to refurbish and upgrade the Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant were estimated to be more than R2-billion. In 2021, with the mayoral baton still in the hands of DA’s Randall Williams, the Rooiwal refurbishment continues to be unresolved – with people, including a baby, continuing to die.

Now, the Hawks, the investigative elite unit, is called in to investigate the disappearance of the money – a sad situation that has seen officials not becoming good stewards of the budget allocated to them for the betterment of communities. Hammanskraal may not be the only place where drinking water comes with death rather than the celebration of life.

The fatalities in Hammanskraal are not the wrath of God. It is the runaway devilish greed that has wormed itself to the marrow of the corruption-prone tender system. The eyes for public duty have been taken off the noble ball to serve the people as demanded by our constitution.

To this death-churning machine of corruption, it would be a mistake to think the private sector is an innocent by-stander. It is as guilty as hell. Where there is no vision, the innocent die as is the case in Hammanskraal. Party-political bickering and recurrence of change in musical chairs bring their own share of disruptive havoc to the security of tenure – eroding the much-needed technocratic skill to strengthen the state’s hand in the provision of potable water.

It is a great pity that those in power have perfected into an art the skill to escape taking responsibility by pleading innocent until proved guilty. A combination of these factors has conspired to bring death rather than life and dignity that clean drinking and cooking water entails. 

Ngwenya is a corporate strategist and a freelance journalist

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