Government must act on water related issues in the Free State

Patricia Kopane MP

DA Free State Spokesperson

Yesterday, South Africans celebrated Human Rights Day across our country. We also celebrated the fact that under our democratic Constitution, every person is treated equally under the law and government is elected to improve the quality of life of all citizens. As South Africans we acknowledge the injustice of our past, but also hope for an improved society where we all can be free and receive the services we deserve.

For this reason the DA is visiting the community of Brandfort and Majwemasweu today to reveal that there are still communities in South Africa whose basic human rights are being neglected. Health Care to residents of this community are being abandoned as a result of poor municipal management and inadequate service delivery.

Owing to the fact that the municipality cannot ensure reliable water supply, the Marantha Clinic is also not able to deliver health services. Considering the good infrastructure as well as the enthusiastic personnel at this clinic, it is cause for concern that the community is prevented from accessing sufficient health care services because of poor municipal management.

In this regard, it is important to note that during the State of the Province address, the Free State Premier Mr Ace Magashule, announced that the provincial government will this year “continue the process of re-engineering primary health care in all districts and municipalities to expand access to primary health care services…” It appears as if the Premier did not consider the levels of service delivery in many Free State municipalities are not up to standard before making such a promise. The ongoing water problems in the communities of Brandfort and the resulting lack of health care services border on gross neglect of the Human rights of residents.

Furthermore, it is unacceptable that the poorest of the poor in Free State towns such as Brandfort and more recently Marquard need to walk long distances to water points, while water is being wasted at an alarming rate in Mangaung less than 60 kilometres from here.

Unless the local, provincial, and national government are committed to ensure sound service delivery, our dreams and hope for improved circumstances for all residents of rural towns will not become reality and our communities will not benefit from the promises enshrined in our Bill of Rights and Constitution.

The DA will officially request that the Ministers of Local Government, Health as well as Water and Environmental Affairs implement viable solutions to the ongoing problems in Masilonyana (Winburg, Brandort, Theunissen, and Soutpan) and Setsoto (Marquard, Ficksburg, Senekal, and Clocolan) . The DA will also submit questions to the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs to find out whether the department will assist in upgrading the water infrastructure in the municipalities and what it will do to ensure that similar problems do not occur in future.

The DA today also wrote to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) requesting it to investigate what is happening in this and other communities in the Free State that have been without clean water for months. The HRC is the appropriate body to get to the bottom of this and hold whoever is responsible accountable. The rights to access to safe and sufficient water resources as well as basic health care services are vital for addressing the inequalities of our past. It is the responsibility of government to ensure that residents can benefit from the promises of our Human Rights, especially during a week that we celebrate our national human rights day.

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