Many Vuwani residents have vowed to stay at home on May 8 because of severe water shortages, sewage spills, uncollected rubbish bins and lack of essential medication at their local clinics.
Residents are locked in an ongoing municipal border dispute after a decision to incorporate them into Collins Chabane Municipality.
Members of the Pro-Makhado Task Team have led protests to have Vuwani remain in Makhado - a situation which has caused a headache for the Electoral Commission of South Africa as it has reportedly been battling to secure voting venues.
In the middle of the Vuwani shopping complex, sewage has been flowing for months.
Eunice Mudau, who sells fruit and vegetables in the complex, said: “It seems like nothing will be done to fix it. Every time I open my fruit market, I am forced to cover my nose and mouth with a cloth due to the unbearable smell from the open sewage.
“I do not see any reason for us to participate in the coming elections because we do not have basic services, such as water.”
In most of the 30 villages in Vuwani, water supply remains a problem. Some of the villages don't have water and residents are forced to buy water from neighbours with boreholes.
Oscar Mulaudzi, who won’t be going to the ballot box, said: “I have never seen running water at Tshimbupfe village. I grew up knowing that when you want water, you must buy at particular families with boreholes.
"Just imagine having to spend R3 for a bucket of water almost every day? And they still expect us to go and vote.”
Access to essential medicine and emergency services for Mashau villagers remained a challenge because their local clinic, which operated in an old building, was always out of stock.
Last year, pregnant Vhonani Netshidzivhani, 23, who was ready to give birth, waited in vain for an ambulance. Five hours later a resident saw her lying helpless at the clinic and rushed her to Elim Hospital.
Recently, Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba handed over new ambulances to Tshilidzini Hospital to address the emergency service challenges.
Ndamulelo Ndou, 21, who won’t vote until Vuwani is returned to Makhado, said: “Since we were moved from Makhado, rubbish bins are no longer collected. That’s one of the reasons our township is in this dirty state.”
In 2016, Vuwani residents em- barked on protests that left more than 28 schools in several villages burnt or damaged.
The villages currently receive their services from the Vhembe District Municipality.
Mayor Mavhungu Luruli-Ramakhanya said a 2019/20 draft budget of more than R1.74billion had been tabled, with R503million set aside for water projects. - Health-e News