The demise of services within the Mafube Local Municipality in the Free State can be directly attributed to the ANC-run government’s financial and political bankruptcy. The municipality is currently experiencing a water crisis consequent to the poor planning by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA).
The municipality was informed three months ago that the water flow from the Katze Dam would be exhausted, however, no contingency plans were put in place to prevent this water crisis.
The Wilge River currently only has enough water left to sustain the residents’ demand for another 14 days before reaching the so-called “day zero”. To date, the DWS has kept promising that the Sol Plaatjie Dam would be opened to provide the necessary relief, alas, to no avail.
Another worrying factor is the 48% water loss on all purified water in the municipality due to poor infrastructure management. Not only is this a waste of a scarce resource, but also an exploitation of chemicals and electricity.
In 2014, the DA in Mafube tabled a motion requesting the council to allocate R1 million per quarter for the upgrading of the ageing water network infrastructure in order to prevent these losses. Notwithstanding these requests, the municipality has failed to invest and money on upgrading and maintaining this water network, which has now become derelict.
At a special council meeting on 31 October 2019, the DA requested the council to actively engage in the seriousness of this matter and present sustainable alternatives to solve the water crisis faced by Mafube, such as the sinking of boreholes, the urgent repair of the Wilge River dam wall, as well as the cleaning and deepening the catchment areas around the municipality, in order to increase the water capacity from the current 8 hour capacity threshold to the recommended 48 hour capacity threshold.
Whilst the Premier of the Free State, Sisi Ntombela, lives in luxurious peace and comfort in her homestead in Bloemfontein, residents from the town where she grew up and still has a residence in Frankfort are living without water. We have little hope that the Premier of the province will ensure that Magashule’s legacy of patronage will cease.
The DA, through our spokesperson Leon Basson MP, who sits on the portfolio of Water and Sanitation, have escalated the matter to Parliament who raised the issue with Mr Kopung Ralikotsane, the Director-General of the Free State Province on 27 October 2019 and have further submitted questions in the Free State Legislature to the Premier.
We urge the DWS and COGTA to assist Mafube Local Municipality during this critical time and to ensure that sustainable solutions are implemented as a matter of urgency. The Premier of the province must take the difficult decisions, if necessary, to create a fruitful and prosperous Free State province.