Note to editors: Please find an attached video by Cllr Alison Oates
For the fifth day, the Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality including the areas of Harrismith, Kestell and QwaQwa is not receiving water from the four water purification pump stations that serve the area. The vast majority of MaP Water staff continue to down tools as they have not been paid their salaries. A fraction of water is being pumped at night at the Wilge Pump Station but is not sufficient to serve the entire community.
The DA attempted to conduct oversight of the Wilge River purification plant to assess the situation and give guidance to the municipality. Unfortunately, we were not allowed in by security. By engaging residents, we have been able to establish the grave impact the crisis has had on the community.
There is no water being pumped currently, despite assurances from the Premier’s office that Bloemwater, a service provider appointed to assist MaP earlier this year, have been deployed to help with the water supply.
DA has requested an urgent council meeting to discuss the financial and water crisis. The MM has also been approached for urgent feedback. Additionally, DA Member of the Provincial Legislature Free State Province, Leona Kleynhans, has written to the Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana and the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to intervene in the crisis.
The water crisis follows a recent six-day electricity outage in QwaQwa where, according to Eskom, they were unable to reach a bulk supply line damaged in a storm, due to waterlogged roads. The municipality owes Eskom an amount approaching R9 billion. Despite the municipality being ordered by a court order to enter into a Distribution Agreement with Eskom, they continue to not do so.
The provision of municipal services has reached an all-time low, bills have not been regularly sent out in years, and revenue collection is also naturally very poor. Senior staff are regularly suspended at full pay on unexplained grounds. The bloated municipality staff is paid, erratically, mainly from government grants.
The municipality cannot function as it should. According to Section 139 of the Constitution, “When a municipality cannot or does not fulfil an executive obligation in terms of the Constitution or legislation, the relevant provincial executive may intervene by taking any appropriate steps to ensure fulfilment of that obligation.” In accordance with this, the DA will seek national intervention.