Nomvula Mokonyane is a desperate woman.
That was plain for all to see this week when the water and sanitation minister threatened to cut water supplies to 30 municipalities throughout the country which, together, owe more than R10 billion.
The threat to halt supplies was somewhat hollow though, because, constitutionally, the government may not deprive a citizen of water.
So, the supplies will be restricted. However, the minister’s threat underlines the ongoing national water crisis – which relates both to supply and to finance – and the danger this poses to the economy, as well as to the welfare of people.
The reality is that the culture of non-payment for services has taken root in this country and it will be very difficult to eradicate it.
Many of those who avoid paying for municipal services are not indigent – they can afford it.
But over the years, they have got away with getting things for free, so why should they change?
Failure to pay the bills also emphasises the abysmal business standards of many of our municipalities, some of which have been crippled by the deployment of incompetent, but connected, ANC cadres.
Fire those people, Minister Mokonyane, before you turn off the taps.