Johannesburg - The government's handling of the national water crisis was its most serious blunder in 2010, trade union Solidarity said on Wednesday.
"In a country afflicted by a scarcity of water, a fast-growing population and ageing infrastructure, our water predicament has now become a ticking timebomb," union spokesperson Ilze Nieuwoudt said, listing the government's top 10 blunders of 2010.
"Damage control of the harm already inflicted on the country's scarce water resources will demand the most dedicated action in 2011."
According to the government's Green Drop report for 2009, only 32 of the 449 plants tested managed Green Drop status. (Only 449 of the country's 852 plants were tested.)
"This means that millions of litres of insufficiently purified water daily find its way into our rivers," Nieuwoudt said.
"Extensive and permanent damage has already been done and the prevention of further damage will require an all-out effort."
Nieuwoudt said the government had "blundered" in various other aspects, "causing permanent harm in many instances".
"The water crisis, misappropriation of funds, efforts to gag the media and the ongoing fiascos at semi-government institutions caused extreme alarm in 2010," she said.
"The government's handling of youth matters, road maintenance, South Africa's military readiness, crime, the widespread housing scandal and labour problems were also very prominent in 2010."
The government's top 10 blunders according to Solidarity are: the water crisis; hosting of the R69m World Youth Festival by the National Youth Development Agency; misappropriation of state funds; potholes on the roads; calls for a media tribunal.
Others are: low morale in the defence force; poor service delivery from parastatals; the failure to create sufficient jobs; a housing scandal involving 2 000 government officials and the failure to crush South Africa's "internationally feared" criminals.