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The African arm of Greenpeace has launched a petition calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to put water at the centre of all government decision-making. This call came on the back of the Auditor-General’s report indicating that the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) had run up R6.4 billion in irregular expenditure.

Greenpeace petitions for waterThe Auditor-General told parliament that irregular expenditure at the department had increased from R4 billion to R6.4 billion. However, the department responded by saying that such figures were premature as the auditing process had not yet been completed. In a statement, the DWS said that it would like to put it on record that the financials that would have indicated such an escalation or even a decline were still in the process of finalisation, with the end date of May 31, 2018. 

“The massive irregular expenditure at the department of water and sanitation is just one more reason for water to become central to all government decision-making. In the face of devastating water scarcity and one of the worst droughts in living memory, it can no longer be one department’s responsibility to ensure that water is adequately managed in South Africa,” says Greenpeace Africa Senior Climate and Energy Campaign Manager Melita Steele.

“We believe that water was a fundamental human right which people cannot live without, and we must make sure that people’s right to water is put first and protected. This is why we have launched a petition calling on President Ramaphosa to clearly prioritise water as a human right.”

Steele says Greenpeace wants the President to lead a process where administrative and policy steps are taken to mandate government departments, agencies, and entities to place water at the centre of all their decision-making processes. “We need to radically rethink our relationship to and management of water. Water as a fundamental human right must become more than just rhetoric. While the rains in Cape Town may slowly be starting, we must keep water sharply in focus. Water scarcity is an ongoing significant challenge as climate change is likely to worsen,” she adds.

The petition is available at https://act.greenpeace.org/page/24020/petition/1. 

Image credit: Copyright: releon003 / 123RF Stock Photo

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