(Debate in parliament: Adjustment Budget for Environment, Forestry and Fisheries)
The environment and conservation of natural resources may not be seen as inferior to sustainable development and current global challenges, like the Covid-19 pandemic.
A fine balance must be struck to ensure that the one is not subordinated to the other for the sake of present, and particularly future, generations.
The impact of the pandemic has shown that the Department's mandate, funds and capabilities, which have been precarious thus far, will be put under even more strain.
As in all other arenas where the ANC is in control, this Department has failed the people of South Africa miserably as is evident in the careless pollution of the country's valuable water resources.
Likewise, dumping sites, also one of the Department's responsibilities, are a mess.
The modern dumping site in Dewetsdorp had cost R8 million when it was completed only four years ago. Today it is no more than a looted skeleton.
Five years after the decision was made to move Lindley's dumping site, which is unlawfully situated within 500m of the town, it still has not been done.
The Môrelig dumping site, which is situated in a residential area in Bethlehem, was supposed to be used only for garden waste. It has since turned into an expansive dumping site where anything from dirty diapers to furniture is dumped.
Bothaville and Wesselsbron's dumping sites do not comply with any of the minimum requirements and are infested with pest-carrying rodents, like rats.
Frankfort's dumping site is situated in a mine pit that floods when it rains. The polluted water runs into the Wilge River and eventually ends up in the Vaal River.
At Wesselsbron, the municipality is pumping sewage into an open field just outside of town. It runs through an adjacent informal residential area and pollutes groundwater.
Al these examples and the associated health risks have been repeatedly brought to the attention of the local authorities over the last few months and again yesterday, but neither the local nor the provincial or national governments lifted a finger to do something about it.
At some stage, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) intervened in an attempt to do something about the pollution of the Vaal River, but the fact that the situation has since worsened is indicative of the defence force's abilities at present.
Add to that the impact of load shedding on hospitals, water purification networks and sewage stations which causes blood, sewage and other waste to end up in clean, drinking water and the picture gets bleaker very quickly.
The policing of environmental legislation is equally poor and there are basically no consequences for offenders. The FF Plus has lodged complaints against offenders, like municipal managers, countless times, including yesterday, but nothing ever comes of it.
Things will only change once decisive and strict action is taken against offenders and that requires political will, which is something that one can hardly expect from the ANC.
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