The Clanwilliam Dam Project in the Western Cape has stalled due to a lack of funding according to Premier Helen Zille.
Zille said in a Daily Maverick article on Monday that Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane told her that there was no money for the project as the funds had been redirected. This was despite the fact that the R2 billion required for the project was on the national budget four years ago.
Zille added that over this four year period, more than R100 million was being wasted to house departmental staff members who have been waiting in Clanwilliam for construction on the project to start.
The project, which has been on the national department’s books as an essential water augmentation project for about a decade, involves the raising of the dam wall by 13.5 metres and was expected to double the dam’s holding capacity, increasing the amount of water available for agriculture and creating jobs.
“There was a lot of excitement in the area when the department’s internal construction unit – Construction South – commenced site establishment in Clanwilliam in June 2014,”Zille explained.
“Then the project stalled. For some unexplained reason, the department decided to go out on tender instead of using its in-house construction capacity,” She continued.
“Two years later, it had still not been awarded. But Minister Mokonyane gave an undertaking in Parliament, on 25 October 2017, that the project would go ahead, and that a contractor would be appointed within two months. This did not happen and the tender lapsed,” she added.
Businesses under threat
Zille said that the drought has placed 20% of farmers under threat of going out of business. “The Tiger Brands factory in the area has closed, as farmers do not have money for cash crops like tomatoes and there is nothing to process.”
“Much of this economic damage could have been averted if the dam wall raising project that was promised had materialised.”
Meanwhile President Cyril Ramaphosa told Parliament in his maiden State of the Nation Address that the government would commit to supporting residents and industries hardest hit by the drought.
Ramaphosa said the drought situation in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape has been elevated to a national state of disaster. “We are looking at activating the necessary extraordinary measures permitted under the legislation,” he noted.
Ramaphosa appealed to the country to continue to intensify efforts to use water wisely.