Maluti-a-Phofung fails to supply water in a Covid-19 hotspot

Issued by Leona Kleynhans MPL – Member of the Official Opposition in the Free State Legislature
26 Jan 2021 in Press Statements

Note to Editors: Please find the attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Leona Kleynhans MPL, Member of the Official Opposition in the Free State Legislature.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the Premier, Sisi Ntombela, and the MEC of Cogta, Skully Nxangisa, requesting that they very urgently intervene to settle the apparent wage dispute in Maluti-a-Phofung.

The wage dispute with water infrastructure staff still drags on despite the Maluti-a-Phofung area being declared a Covid-19 hotspot by the Free State government. It is not clear what this hotspot ‘declaration’ means if the ANC government is unable to even ensure basic water supply to the 380 000 residents.

This latest water crisis is on top of the usual mismanagement of water supply infrastructure. The Department of Water and Sanitation has budgeted vast sums of money to address the water infrastructure backlogs, but the municipal administration is clearly not even able to manage its staff who must operate this infrastructure.

It is outrageous that essential staff are able to hold the 380 000 residents hostage. Whether this strike is illegal, and whether the staff have legitimate concerns, it is the function of the municipal administration to manage this and ensure that staff are doing their job in supplying water to communities.

In July last year the MEC prematurely and unilaterally lifted the intervention whereby solutions were being implemented in the municipality. This lifting of the intervention raises suspicions oh whether the control over the finances was the sole motivation.

It is very clear that the ANC management in Maluti-a-Phofung does not have the capacity to manage a large and complex municipality. The management of staff, and the delivery of reliable water and electricity services are the most basic of municipal functions, but even that is beyond the ability of this municipality.

It becomes more clear every day that this municipality has in effect collapsed, and that with the local government elections coming up soon, residents will need to decide if basic services are important to them or not. The DA has proved where it governs that basic services can only be assured through good and clean governance.