According to this year’s Green Drop report, the Mkhondo local municipality in Piet Retief scored 0%, which is the worst in the province, where half of the 18 local municipalities scored less than 50%.
When African Eye News Service asked municipal spokesperson Musa Shongwe to explain the impact of the results on residents, he said the score was not a true reflection of reality.
“We are planning to challenge the findings of the department,” he said.
“We cannot take the responsibility because we were not running the municipality, it was under administration. We were not even aware that the findings were already promulgated.”
Shongwe said a number of documents relating to water issues were not submitted to relevant people when the municipality was under curatorship.
He said if the documents had been submitted on time, the municipality would have scored at least 30%.
“We believe that if all necessary documents were submitted to the relevant people, we would have done better, we would have scored at least 30%,” he said.
Shongwe said the municipality was placed under curatorship in June 2009 and handed back to its executive leadership in April last year.
Poor waste water management could lead to the contamination of ground and surface water, which many rural people rely on for drinking and household use.
Independent water analyst in Mpumalanga, Victor Mashego, warned that residents who live in municipalities that have scored less than 50% could be sitting on a time bomb.
“Drinking water contaminated with sewage substances or any other substance is fatal because a person can contract cholera and other water-borne diseases. It is such a serious issue that it needs urgent attention if lives must be spared,” said Mashego.
Shongwe said that in order to eradicate water backlogs, the municipality would ensure that 340 boreholes were functional.
“We are also expecting an additional 51 boreholes from the department of agriculture and rural development,” he said.
He added that all boreholes would be equipped with JOJO tanks to allow for chlorine treatment.
Treatment Action Campaign manager in the Gert Sibande district, Linda Mavuso, said the situation in Piet Retief needed urgent attention as the lives people with HIV/Aids were in danger.
“Contaminated water is not good for anyone, especially people living with the virus. HIV-infected people can easily get diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases,” said Mavuso.
Mavuso said it was pointless for government to encourage HIV positive people to take antiretroviral drugs, only to give them contaminated water.
Department of health and social development spokesperson Mpho Gabashane stressed that no cases of water-borne diseases had been reported in the Mkhondo municipality.
Other local municipalities that scored less than 50% are Emalahleni (45.6% ), Bushbuckridge (28.5% ), Nkomazi (42.8% ), Thembisile Hani (29.6%), Victor Khanye (28.5%), Dipaleseng (26.1%), Lekwa (19% ), Albert Luthuli (17.2%) and Msukaligwa (9.1% ).