The water crisis in the Free State does not only affect the Fezile Dabi district. The water crisis extends all the way to the Lejweleputswa District, Masilonyana Local Municipality, Masilo township in Theunissen. The Inyanda Community News team spent to time with the residents of the Masilo township to find out how they are experiencing the water crisis.
Godfrey Makhathe was born and raised in Masilo. Makhathe is a pastor and a member of the township committee. He says in all the years he noticed that the government hasn’t taken the water crisis seriously and adds that the crisis affects residents horribly because when there is no water, work comes to a standstill. Makhathe says he sometimes ask himself questions which he doesn’t have answers to such as why the mines never lack water but their township, which is so close to the mines, is always without water. “The water crisis badly affects our children’s school studies, and our businesses are failing because we need a lot of water to run our businesses,” says Mr Makhathe with tears in his eyes.
Motsamai Matli is an activist in the township of Masilo. Matli told Inyanda Community News that politicians meddle in the distribution of water in the township and this has worsened the crisis. He further said the dam that provides water for the township is very old and needs to be fixed.
Lebo Modise, also a resident of Masilo, added that the water crisis is made worse by corruption and hiring of municipal workers because of their ‘connections’. Modis said that the municipality should hire people with knowledge and experience to find solutions regarding water crisis. “Masilo is a very small township. The government doesn’t need to take important services like water to private businesses.” Modise, an activist living in Masilo, says as women they are especially hurt since their daughters often get assaulted when they go to fetch water.
It is not only the Fezile Dabi and Lejweleputswa districts which is facing a water crisis. Many residents in the Mangaung municipality continue to struggle with water issues.
In the newly formed township of Marikana in the Botshabelo section, 28-year-old Nthabeleng Ramakatsa lives with her husband and three children. Ramakatsa says the water crisis is not as bad for them as compared to the other municipalities. However, she says in the last year or two, there are growing complaints about leaking toilets which causes their water bills to be high and can result in bad debt. She adds the problem of leaking toilets will only be solved if their ward committee starts being impartial. “We not working within our ward. We just ask if the municipality could train us so that we learn how to fix these leaking pipes in our township,” adds Ramakatsa.
Aaron Ranayeke, who supports the Inyanda National Land Movement through the Movement Building Stream of the Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TOCE), is also leading a Water Crisis campaign. Ranayeke says the campaign aims to solve these water problems and he has also helped to set up temporary crisis committees.
The South African constitution states that every citizen has the right to enough clean water. But in the words of Letta Mbuli it is ‘Not yet Uhuru’ for many citizens of the Free State province.
Editor’s Note: This is the final article in a two-part series about the Water Crisis in the Free State Province.