It has been a frustrating year for the SAVE Committee despite a lot of hard work by our committee.
The key to our success is financial support. We had such a poor response to a fund-raising cruise scheduled for April this year that it had to be cancelled. We are appealing to all people who want to see a clean Vaal River, especially river property owners, to contribute R250 per month by way of a recurring monthly payment. This is little enough to protect your property investment at the river and will help us build funds to take on central government in the High Court. Please discuss your contribution with Megan Daymond after the meeting.
This year, we adopted several strategies in our ongoing efforts to clean up the river.
We have kept up pressure on the Emfuleni Local Council to upgrade the three waste water works and sewer reticulation system under their jurisdiction. This included the preparation of an affidavit to lay criminal charges against the Municipal Manager, the Mayor and Council. This was discussed with the Municipal Manager who advised that it would not help as the Council simply has no money. We were reliably informed that even Rand Water does not get paid fully for its service to the Council in managing the waste water works.
A SAVE sub-committee comprising Malcolm Plant, Megan Daymond and Maureen Stewart is having meetings with municipal officials to try and understand their problems and to keep up the pressure. The main problem is lack of funding.
Mike Gaade, who joined the committee this year, together with Megan Daymond represents SAVE in a consortium of organizations representing business people in Vanderbijlpark who are deeply concerned about the effects of the decaying waste water works on economic development in the area. This consortium has had several meetings with Emfuleni Council officials and will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Council to be able to move forward. The consortium is looking at gaining approval for package sewage plants under strict conditions, which will help to alleviate capacity pressure on the waste water works. They are also investigating the possibility of international donor funding to assist Government with the waste water infrastructure in the Emfuleni Council.
Thomas du Toit continues to do a sterling job in reporting the regular pipe bursts to the Council and chasing up these pipe bursts to ensure that they are repaired quickly. Thank you Thomas.
Our application to the Public Protector for investigation of the Emfuleni Council has been accepted and transferred to the Gauteng office. This is being followed up regularly to encourage the official to get going on the investigation.
Our efforts to build the Court Case against the National Departments of Water and Sanitation, the Environment and Finance commenced with requests for information under the Public Access to Information Act. Scanty information has been received after long delays. This information indicates that the Minister and her officials are not doing a proper job in looking after our dams and rivers.
However, the recent announcements regarding upgrades to the three waste water works in Emfuleni and proposals for a new Sedibeng regional works requires a new legal strategy. We also believe that these proposals are partly due to the extreme pressure we have placed on the Department.
We intend keeping up the pressure on the Department of Water and Sanitation via our environmental lawyer and through the media, to ensure that we do not have a host of unfulfilled promises, as has happened in the past.
Our current concerns are that the upgrades will deal only with the requirements of the proposed Vaal City and not with a much needed upgrade to the existing reticulation system and the over-capacity situation at the waste water works in Emfuleni. If necessary we will go through the Courts.
We have, in the interim written to the Premier of Gauteng and the Developer of Vaal City to be registered as an interested and affected party. No responses have yet been received but this is being followed up vigorously and if necessary, we will take a legal approach.
It is with regret that I have decided to step down as Chairman due to other commitments. I will, however, pursue SARS to obtain approval for donations to SAVE to be tax deductible in terms of Section 18A of the Income Tax Act.
SAVE needs some new blood. We need energetic people who are prepared to give of their time and expertise to cleaning up the Vaal River. We are particularly in need of legal and engineering expertise.
In closing, I would like to thank the committee for their hard work during the year and Megan Daymond who has settled into the job of secretary. Megan is doing her thesis on pollution in the Vaal River and we hope that her research will help us in our efforts to have a clean river again.