The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Gauteng delegation deviated from the Provincial Week programme to listen to the concerns of South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) members who protested outside the Sedibeng Water Treatment Project. Metsi-A-Lekoa was briefing the delegation on water and sanitation infrastructure in the Emfuleni local municipality while the protests occurred.

SAMWU says the cause of disagreement is the Department of Water and Sanitation’s appointment of Rand Water as an implementing agency for the Section 63 intervention in Metsi-A-Lekoa, a water and sanitation agency under the Emfuleni Local Municipality. The union rejects the appointment because of the alleged lack of consultation from Rand Water and similar interventions that have failed in the past.

The Chairperson invited the protesters into a round table discussion where they clarified their concerns further. They told the NCOP delegates that their staff complement is under 60% and that Rand Water fails to provide the tools of the trade necessary to deal with the sewerage spill that ravages the community of Emfuleni.

They say Rand Water’s specialty is the provision of clean water, hence its failure to address the sewer problem. The union also accuses Rand Water of deploying untrained officials to supervise the work and providing insufficient security to guard vulnerable infrastructure.

SAMWU demanded consultation with Rand Water and proper employment contracts. Union members say their lives are at risk from community members who think they are complacent about the sewer problem.

The NCOP Chairperson assured the workers that the NCOP will escalate their concerns to the highest relevant office in the three spheres of government. “Your concerns are valid and the NCOP will, through its constituency leader in the area, meet the union leadership and relevant government decision makers to establish ongoing engagements,” the Chairperson committed. During the official briefing, high ranking officials from Emfuleni Municipality corroborated the protestors’ concerns.

The NCOP is engaged with a weeklong Provincial Week programme that provides NCOP delegates with an opportunity to return to their provinces to assess service delivery to citizens.

Xihlamariso Ngoveni
1 April 2022