Money for DStv but none for municipal services
CONSUMERS would rather keep up their DStv subscriptions than pay for water and other municipal services.
According to Johannesburg Water managing director Lungile Dhlamini, many residents of Soweto plead poverty when payment for water is due but manage to keep up their DStv subscriptions and car repayments.
Water boards across the country are owed R3.67-billion and the figure is rising every year.
Dhlamini said Johannesburg Water was struggling to convince Soweto residents to pay for what they consume.
By the end of the year Johannesburg Water will have spent R1.6-billion over 10 years on infrastructure upgrading but the return on that investment has been only R880-million, achieved mainly through repairing leaking infrastructure.
The remaining R720-million is lost revenue owed by people who refuse to pay.
Dhlamini warned that if water were not used sparingly and paid for, residents might one day have to drink recycled water.
“It’s no longer enough for Johannesburg Water to fix pipes.
“People must pay for water. If they don’t there will be no money to replace the pipes.
“When you drive around Soweto there is a mixture of people who are indigent and those who plead indigence but are not.
“You can’t say you’re indigent and yet you run DStv and you watch SABC over pay TV. You should have free-to-air.
“You have someone who has a car, runs DStv and you can tell that this family is able to pay for water, especially if you install a prepaid meter. For R20 you can buy a lot of water,” said Dhlamini.
“There’s also this culture that says water is free, that it comes from God. We import water from Lesotho because we’ve exhausted our internal resources.
“We’re about to exhaust the first phase of the Lesotho Highlands Project, which is why there’s talk about a second phase.”
Not inclined to mince his words, Dhlamini said politics were to blame for the current impasse in Soweto.
“Historically, during the struggle days, there were calls for disinvestment; calls for making the then government unable to govern and for people not to pay for services. “It was a political campaign. “After 1994 there was no clarion call to say to people the reason why we had called for this was because of political reasons. It hasn’t been done.
“That is why we are appealing to our political principals to say there has to be an indaba. And it’s a national problem, which is more acute in Johannesburg because it is more populous,” said Dhlamini.