Zuma in Bushbuckridge: The truth is a water crisis

By James Masango MPL, DA Mpumalanga Leader:

The visit by President Jacob Zuma to Bushbuckridge today should reveal a tragic tale of a community gripped by a water crisis, where taps are dry, infrastructure is crumbling and people share water sources with animals. This is certain to be compounded by the drought that has hit neighbouring provinces.

Bushbuckridge exemplifies the breakdown of service delivery under the ANC, as people live without their right to water because their government has given up on solving their problems.

As President Zuma jets in by private helicopter and speeds around in convoys of cars today, the unbearable waterless lives of our people will continue on unimproved tomorrow.

Water projects in Bushbuckridge have been unacceptably delayed, and costs have massively increased, because poor governance has abandoned this community.

If President Zuma was honest with Bushbuckridge, he would be fetching water from holes in the ground, and from broken pipes, like the people of Bushbuckridge do every day.

Recently, DA Shadow Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nosimo Balindlela MP, visited Bushbuckridge and together we observed horrific water failures.

The community of Emagamsini and Hlamalani and surrounding areas in Casteel, Bushbuckridge, are desperate for water. On our oversight visit , we experienced first-hand how residents are subjected to dirty drinking water from wells, as their only water source. Community members embark on an almost 20 km journey to collect water which they share with animals.

We joined them on their long daily trek to collect water. This is something no South African should experience after 21 years of democracy and is clearly a violation of a most basic human right. Section 27 of the Constitution ensures that each and every South African has the right to clean quality drinking water.

After that oversight visit the DA wrote to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation, Mlungisi Johnson, to request that he summon Minister Nomvula Mokonyane to account for the devastating waterless situation in Bushbuckridge. But Minister Mokonyane ignored the people of Bushbuckridge.

In Casteel, 15 year old Lucas Lebyane was shot dead by the police during a service delivery protest demanding water – the situation in Bushbuckridge is so desperate that children are dying for the right to water.

President Zuma cannot claim that the water crisis of Bushbuckridge is in anyway under control, while people live in conditions of such neglect.

Today President Zuma used the Bushbuckridge visit to hold an ANC rally, instead of acting in solidarity with this forgotten community.