The South African constitution states that: everyone has the right to have the environment that is not harmful to their health or well being.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Free State says this right cannot be guaranteed by the provincial and governments in the Free State that lack the institutional capacity to deliver on such rights. According to the DA, the Free State currently has an abundance of water but residents remain waterless due to water supply and water pollution related to management issues.
The Free State Water Status report received by the DA on the 10th of January 2021, shows that water scarcity experienced by many residents of local municipalities has recently been compounded and exposed by the global Covid-19 pandemic that requires people to practice water based hygiene such as regular hand washing.
The leader of the opposition, Dr Roy Jankielsohn, wrote to Premier Sisi Ntombela regarding water issues in the province. In his letter Jankielsohn wrote: The water supply and quality issues obviously affect residents’ abilities to mitigate Covid-19 as suggested through regular hand, mask and clothes washing and the intake of safe water.
Jankielsohn added that it is clear that many of the issues are political in nature and are the consequence of years of neglect, cadre deployment and ANC factional battles. Dealing with these issues will require sound and decisive leadership and resource prioritization at provincial and local levels.
Nketoana municipality which includes, Reitz, Lindley and Petrus Steyn have been experiencing water problems for many years and the new pipeline which was supposed to mitigate this has been delayed by issues relating to the allocation of tenders and allegations of political interference, and financial mismanagement.
The Afrikan Post had a chance to hear from the residents of Mamafubedu, Petrus Steyn. According to the residents they are still faced with water supply problems, one of them said they usually don’t have water in the morning till the evening and sometimes goes the whole day or days without water. For the past weeks residents have been experiencing health problems because of unclean water.
New residential areas have been allowed to be established without ensuring the necessary service delivery infrastructure. Lindley only has water from 14H00 to 18H00 and Arlington was without water for two weeks
The report shows that Poor planning, financial mismanagement and lack of prioritization of funds towards basic service delivery, ageing water-related infrastructure and poor maintenance of infrastructure, growing demand for household water due to rapid urbanization and diminishing supply due to infrastructure and financial issues are the root causes root causes of water supply, water quality and water sewerage related problems in the province.