Address in the Debate: Budget Vote 37 - Water Affairs by the UDM President (15 April 2010)

 

Mister Speaker and honourable Members

The UDM supports the budget vote.

If one travels by road from Joburg to KwaZulu-Natal or the Eastern Cape or Limpopo, one is struck by the continued existence of the Apartheid topography of our country. Traditionally privileged areas continue to be the only places with any significant infrastructure. In the vast areas between and around these islands of privilege the majority of South Africans live in conditions not fit for animals. Genuine access to clean water is a basic human right that does not exist in these communities.

Billions are being spent on expanding or maintaining infrastructure inherited from the old regime. On the other hand, the infrastructure where the majority live is sorely neglected. This lies at the root of the violent community protests that we witness across the country. People are not blind to the disparities.

The question we need to discuss is Government’s priorities.

The current budget does not address the need to bring the previously-neglected areas of the country onto the same level in terms of water infrastructure. We are sitting on a time-bomb. This is a water-scarce country with a growing population and outdated infrastructure designed to service a small portion of citizens who live in the privileged areas. Government has failed in the last 15 years to integrate the infrastructure of the under-privileged areas and bring them on par with the privileged areas. The budget process seems to be inherently flawed when Government fails to address the needs of the majority, but finds money to waste on projects that don’t improve the quality of life of all South Africans.

The people of a place like Alexandra see the development of the Gautrain passing through their community and wonder why that money was not utilised to improve their lives.

Now we hear for instance that the Minister of Transport is speaking about a high-speed train link between Joburg and Durban. This is a perfect example of lop-sided priorities, because such a multi-billion Rand investment is a luxury aimed at the privileged whilst the marginalised masses don’t have access to something as basic as clean water. What nauseates many South Africans is that once such projects have been hastily approved we always discover that it was nothing but a looting of state resources through lucrative tenders to enrich a select few.

What we urgently need is a master plan to integrate the infrastructure of rural and poor areas with existing infrastructure.

I thank you.