Neels Blom Writer at large

The department of water & sanitation disseminates a figure that indicates the state of the nation’s water: as of June 2016, 89.4% of South Africans had access to piped water. But is this a good number, or a bad one? The answer for most people depends on which side of the number they fall, though the question is becoming irrelevant as supplies fail countrywide. Former minister of water & sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane, now communications minister, quotes the statistic in her last foreword for the department’s annual report, in which she writes that "immense effort" has been made by the department over the period under review to accelerate the delivery of water and sanitation services. But she immediately blames the drought for the department’s financial difficulties and the resultant parlous state of water and sanitation infrastructure. The veracity of her view is under investigation by the parliamentary standing committee on public accounts, which is considering criminal charges over ...

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