More money for municipalities

The budget of the Department of Water affairs and forestry for new water services projects in 2004/05 has been transferred to the municipalities in the country. The transfer is in accordance with the constitution of the country, which gives municipalities the executive authority and the right to administer water services to the users. The second decade of democracy marks a historic moment for the water sector, as the department passed on the responsibility for water services delivery into the hands of local government. The process of transferring water schemes, projects and staff is already underway as required by the constitution. So in July 2004, many municipalities will have a lot more money in their budget than last year. “There should be no illusions, these funds are not an early Xmas present but a heavy responsibility.” Said Mr Mike Muller, Water affairs and Forestry Director General addressing Water institute of South Africa conference recently held in Cape Town.
An important task for the department will be to work with municipalities and help them to use the money to deliver on government contract with the people of South Africa, which promises an end to the bucket system by 2008, an end to the water supply backlog by 2008 and an end to the sanitation backlog by 2010, a key focus for the department in the next five years.
Minister Sonjica has already confirmed that this is a personal concern to her and that she will ensure that sanitation is given the priority it deserves.