Johannesburg – Global human rights watchdog Amnesty International has urged South Africa’s government to ensure zero tolerance towards the misappropriation of funds set aside to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement, the executive director of Amnesty International South Africa Shenilla Mohamed said the coronavirus scourge had highlighted the critical need for access to adequate housing as well as safe and sufficient water and sanitation for all.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that R20 billion would be used towards emergency water supplies and support for the homeless during a national lockdown to curb the spread of the virus was a welcome step, Mohamed said.
“With the lockdown conditions only slightly reduced and most stringent regulations remaining in place, the deep impact on people’s lives continues,” she said.
“Now is the time for government to work on long-term plans to guarantee that sufficient resources are allocated to ensure that all human rights are upheld for the remainder of the lockdown as well as beyond the pandemic. The government must have a zero-tolerance approach to corruption and the mismanagement of funds.”
Mohamed noted that the government’s national water and sanitation master plan — launched last year to guide investment in the water sector — made a concession that high levels of corruption had impacted on service delivery in several South African municipalities.
“It is therefore critical that the most stringent measures must be put in place to ensure that every rand is accounted for and its impact measured. Every cent must go to the communities that need it most,” she said.
Amnesty International South Africa has been running a “right to water” campaign which calls on the government to be transparent in communicating information on which communities water is being delivered to, the distance needed to travel to access water, and how much water is being distributed per household.
It also wants Ramaphosa’s government to ensure that equitable access to sufficient, safe and reliable water becomes a reality for all, even beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.
The human rights organisation says decades of corruption and the mismanagement of public funds has weakened the department of water and sanitation’s ability to deliver access to safe and reliable water, leaving one in three people in South Africa, or about 20 million people, without access.
African News Agency (ANA)
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