Media Statement - 14 September 2012

The Sanitation Task Team appointed by Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale last September to look at the challenge of unclosed toilets in the country has found that there is no compliance to the norms and standards in the implementation of the programme.

Briefing the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements on the findings of the Task Team in Parliament earlier today, Sexwale said the lack of compliance led to poor operation and maintenance of sanitation facilities and infrastructure by municipalities designated as Water Services Authorities.

The report has also found, among others, that:

  • Local authorities are not using the annual Municipal Infrastructure Grant allocation of R7 billion for water and sanitation, rerouting it to other priorities instead
  • As a result, municipalities are not adequately planning for the sanitation programme in their budgets
  • Government has delivered over 2.5 million sanitation facilities since 1994, having the backlog by halve in 2010
  • Rural and urban communities are generally serviced
  • More settlements are connected to the grid (water borne) ·Informal settlements dwellers on privately owned land are severely underserviced

The Ministerial Sanitation Task Team recommends that sanitation become a national priority of government, something that has been achieved following a decision by the recent Cabinet Lekgotla to elevate it to one of the Strategic Infrastructure Projects.

"The first thing for common people, the first infrastructure before a road and airport and all these things, even before a house, is a toilet. Sanitation is the first line of defence for human dignity," said Sexwale.

Sanitation must remain, until the last person in South Africa found dignity – not behind a tree or a rock – a national priority.

There was something wrong in buying arms which were important but not critical to the country at the time when there was pressing socio-economic imperatives, said Sexwale.

"If only a quarter of that money would have been given to housing and sanitation… If you cannot deliver that (sanitation) people cannot trust you with delivering houses and other things. If we can’t provide this one, then we are not worth the trust people have invested on us.”

Sexwale also announced that he would request the Special Investigating Unit to see if people who were responsible for the "sloppy work” in the delivery of sanitation could not be brought to book.

It was clear that some of the people have taken advantage of the government, thinking that it was an Automated Teller Machine.

He dedicated the report, which would be tabled before the Cabinet next week, to the Moqhaka in the Free State and Makhaza in Cape Town.

Issued by the Ministry of Human Settlements

For more information contact Xolani Xundu at 083 788 5747

Press Release Date: 
Friday, September 14, 2012