The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) launched the national public consultation on the Draft Water and Sanitation Services Policy on Privately Owned Land on Thursday, 16 March 2023 at Birchwood Hotel, Boksburg in Gauteng.
The national public consultation of the above-mentioned policy sought to solicit inputs from the public, stakeholders in the sector and also to raise awareness. Privately-owned land is a land that is not owned, controlled, or leased by the state. This may include commercial farms, mine owned land, churches owned land, trust properties, game parks, sectional or residential complexes among others.
The Department commenced its consultations in provinces in December 2022, to get input from affected stakeholders including farm dwellers, residents in privately owned lands and property owners as well as affected organs of state on the matter. The roll out of provincial hearings were wrapped up in February 2023.
The draft policy is aimed at exploring ways to redress the provision of water services to residents on privately owned land by ensuring that there is access to safe and potable water supply and sanitation, supported by appropriate health and hygiene practices for the people living on those lands that are currently out of municipal distributing network, using water services intermediaries’ mechanisms as enshrined in the Water Services Act, 1997 (Act No. 108 of 1997).
Addressing attendees at the launch, Siboniso Ndlovu, Director: Water Services Policy Strategy and Evaluation indicated that the draft framework comes as a result of the 2017 judgment on the case involving Mshengu vs uMsunduzi, uMshwathi local municipalities, uMgungundlovu District Municipality and others, and the Department of Water and Sanitation as the sixth respondent. This is where the court judgment stated that failure by the Water Services Authorities (WSA) to provide farm dwellers and labour tenants with access to basic sanitation, sufficient water, and collection of refuse was inconsistent with the constitution.
“The court judgement necessitated the Department to do some introspection and revive the draft policy to provide a framework on how to deal with the provision of water services to people living on privately owned land” Ndlovu emphasised.
Some of the concerns raised during the deliberation by representatives of farm workers are the fact that private landowners barred municipal and government officials from entering their land, this is having an adverse effect on the provision of basic services to farm dwellers. The Department is trying to engage municipalities to review their by-laws and policies in order to have some sort of authority to enter privately owned land.
Dr. Luvuyo Jalisa, DWS official under the directorate; Water Services Policy Strategy and Evaluation called on Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) and other stakeholders to come on board to ensure that basic services such as water and sanitation are provided to privately owned land residents such as mining communities and farm dwellers.
“We are pleading with communities to collaborate with us closely in the development of this policy to strengthen our efforts to deliver water and sanitation services to their homes” Dr. Jalisa concluded.
Cell: 060 561 8935