Displaced Palestinians wait by containers for water supply at their tent camp in Rafah, where Israel says it will send in ground troops against Hamas

Minister of Water and Sanitation of South Africa Senzo Mchunu invoked Section 63 of the Water Services Act to address water and sanitation issues in the uThukela District Municipality, located in KwaZulu-Natal.

The Section 63 intervention in the municipality will be there for three to five years and involves taking charge of the management, operations and maintenance of water and sanitation infrastructure.

Mchunu announced this decision during a meeting with uThukela District Municipality Executive Mayor Inkosi Ntandoyenkosi Shabalala and KwaZulu-Natal Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Bongi Sithole-Moloi.

Under the Water Services Act of 1997, the minister can step in and manage water and sanitation services if an authority shows a consistent decline, despite multiple efforts to help them improve.

KwaZulu-Natal Chairperson of Traditional Leaders Inkosi Shinga and the uMngeni-uThukela Water team, led by board Chairperson Advocate Vusi Khuzwayo were also present during the meeting.

The minister noted that the quality of services provided by any Water Services Authority (WSA) nationwide is important to the department as their performance reflects on the integrity of the national government and the President of the country.

"As a bulk water supplier and a regulator of the sector, we can never look away when there are challenges," he said, SA News reported. "The water value chain includes us, and we are constitutionally bound to detect problems and where we see them, act decisively."

He added, "When another sphere of government is facing challenges, there is a need for another sphere to intervene so that stability is brought about."

Deputy Director-General for Water and Sanitation Services at the department Risimati Mathye shared a presentation on the water and sanitation situation in the area and described a concerning trend of deteriorating water and sanitation services in the district.

Mathye pointed out that there is a need for action by the Minister and reassured the municipality that the Minister's intervention is aimed at benefiting both - the government and the communities impacted by these declining services.

During the presentation, Mathye highlighted several hurdles including the need for refurbishing water and sanitation infrastructure to make it more reliable and able to meet demand and a high percentage of non-revenue water due to pipe bursts.

He also noted that there are leaks that are not attended to on time leading to high water losses as well as a lack of maintenance of waste water infrastructure which leads to the discharge of raw sewage into sensitive natural environments.