Doomsday threat to ANC by water-stricken communities

Water is at the heart of the matter for voter apathy and anger. Picture Cindy Waxa/Independent Newspapers

Water is at the heart of the matter for voter apathy and anger. Picture Cindy Waxa/Independent Newspapers

Published May 22, 2024


Durban — Water-stricken eThekwini communities have united in a bid to oust the ruling party from power, citing its failure to resolve their crises.

Residents said they would show their power at the polls by choosing other political parties that could resolve the water issue in their communities.

Some parts of eThekwini have been without water for many months.

Mike Padayachee, deputy chairperson of the Verulam water crisis committee, said, “This is day 13 with no water. I have witnessed elders from my community having to carry water up the stairs to their houses every day. It is enough to make me want to vote for a different party.

“This is not a racial thing but a problem all communities are facing. I will be voting, not boycotting. You need to vote to see if there will be change.”

Vishal Dhudibal, chairperson of the Verulam water crisis committee, said: “I will definitely vote for somebody different because the current party has been giving me a headache rather than helping. My community has had water issues since 2022; 14 areas have not had water for 16 consecutive days; tanker water is not good for drinking… something we are forced to accept. We have been sitting weekly with various organisations getting the wool pulled over our eyes.”

Allison Schoeman, vice-chair of the Bluff Ratepayers and Residents Association, attorney, conveyancer and political candidate for RISE Mzansi, said she was deeply concerned.

The water crisis in eThekwini, a long-standing issue exacerbated by mismanagement and lack of timely intervention, was set to reach a boiling point precisely as the country approached a critical voting period, she said.

“The lack of water at some voting stations could discourage voter turnout. On election day, we expect record-breaking numbers of voters at the polls, highlighting the urgency and significance of these elections.

“Many residents are eager to express their dissatisfaction with the current state of service delivery through their vote, which is their most direct tool for instigating change.”

The prospect of spending hours in queues without access to water posed a significant health risk, she said, especially for the elderly and those with young children. It was impractical and unfair to expect citizens to endure these conditions, which could deter them from exercising their democratic rights.

“Moreover, the water crisis itself stands as a stark reminder of why robust participation in these elections is crucial.

“It underscores the need for accountable leadership that prioritises the basic needs and rights of its constituents,” she said.

A resident in Buffelsdraai, near Inanda, who did not want to be named for fear of being victimised said: “I have been living here for 30 years and I have never seen any change.

“Some councillors only call water tankers for areas that their family or friends live in. We still use pit toilets and they install them only at houses with pensioners. They also call the tankers at night when we won’t disturb them by fetching water. It is painful to wake up in the morning only to find that the neighbour has water that they collected secretly the night before. I want to vote for any other party but the ANC.”

Verulam Water Crisis Committee spokesperson, Roshan Lil-Ruthan, said that many have been united in boycotting the elections altogether since they feel that the government has ignored their right to water and they will in turn not exercise their right to vote.

KwaZulu-Natal ANC spokesperson Mafika Mndebele said staunch ANC voters will never be moved by the water crisis because they understand that KZN has been hit by floods that affected infrastructure.

The issues could not be covered by the eThekwini budget alone which is why they sought the assistance of President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu, he said.

“Infrastructure was damaged, the minister has also visited the province countless times to resolve the issue. Also, new dams are being built such as the uMkomaas water project of R28 billion that will make eThekwini and surrounds to immediately receive water. It is not the only dam such as uMngeni and uThukela Water board to channel water into communities.”

IEC spokesperson Thabani Ngwira said that the City will provide water tankers at voting stations on election day; details will be outlined at the final briefing on the state of readiness for elections at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre on Friday.

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