Water wars in the Free State in full swing

Issued by Roy Jankielsohn – DA Free State Leader
26 Sep 2022 in Press Statements

Note to editors: Please find attached English soundbite by Roy Jankielsohn MPL. 

The closure of the N1 national highway at Ventersburg due to an ongoing water crisis in the town is an indication that the water wars in the Free State is in full swing. It is a revolt by residents who have been denied their constitutional right to a sustainable supply of safe water in their taps for four weeks. This is a regular occurrence in most towns in Mathjabeng Municipality, especially in Ventersburg.

The clash with the station commissioner of the local SAPS that resulted in warning shots fired after he attempt to negotiate with protestors is unfortunate. The SAPS are unfairly expected in such instances to be the face of local government, while democratically elected municipal mayors and executives are in hiding.

The closure of a national road and violence can never be condoned, but must be recognised as a last resort by residents to obtain the attention of their ANC-run local, provincial and national governments. The violence and disruption is often due to the unwillingness of ANC politicians, outside of their election campaigns, to face and communicate with communities around service related issues that affect them.

National emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic and load-shedding, while being serious realities that affects services, are often used as convenient excuses for the lack of services. In many instances municipal funds are still used to fund non-service-related events and even new vehicles for politicians.

Water resources in Matjhabeng have been notoriously mismanaged for many years amid various allegations of corruption and financial mismanagement as alluded to in many annual Auditor-General reports.

On 12 September 2022 the DA delivered a memorandum to the Office of the Free State Premier, during a water march, with a list of problems and possible solutions relating to the ongoing poor management of water resources in the province. While communities are without water for long periods of time, available water resources are polluted by the lack of functional sewerage systems.

The DA will continue to fight for the rights of communities to basic services such as access to clean water. Residents must remember that they have opportunities during elections to hold their politicians accountable. Support for the ANC, whose entrenched culture of self-enrichment and corruption are the cause of poor services, during elections will not change the service delivery outcomes.