ANC doesn’t talk about people who walk 4km to get water – Lindiwe Mazibuko

2014-04-15 15:50

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With her bare feet covered by water, DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko bent over to help pensioner Leah Monyela fill her bucket.

When they were done, Mazibuko said what she had just experienced could not be part of the ANC’s “good story to tell”.

She later told community members of Podile village in Ga-Molepo outside Polokwane in Limpopo: “It’s now time to show the ANC that if they don’t deliver services, then they won’t get our votes.”

Mazibuko joined residents on their way to fetch water earlier today. Leaving behind dry taps, which they said have not supplied any water in months, they walked downhill through bushes to a stream about 400m from the last house in the village.

At this spot, thorny bushes had been arranged to stop animals from drinking there.

Members of the community said they sometimes had to dig in the sand for water when the river ran dry, particularly during winter.

Mazibuko later expressed shock that people still had to “wake up at 5am, walk 4km through dangerous bushes where [they] could be bitten by snakes or raped and assaulted by criminals just in order to get the most basic right, which is water”.

“It is shocking to see that in 2014, today, when the ANC likes talking about having a good story to tell, that it doesn’t talk about people who have to walk this long distance in difficult conditions to gain access to the most basic services,” she said.

“People share water with animals. This water is not clean and safe. I hear from a local DA councillor that a donkey has been found dead before in this part of the river, so these people are not only sharing water with animals but sometimes they have to pull dead animals out of the water and then drink that same contaminated water.”

Mazibuko said she was going to lay complaints with the Human Rights Commission to investigate the failure of the local municipality to provide the Podile community with clean and safe water.

“It is truly shocking that any government can claim that this is a success when the picture is very clear that people are suffering. They have to walk hours in the hot sun in order to access water that is not very safe; that is a long way away; and that could be putting their lives at risk,” she said.

“The last time I was in the Free State I was addressing similar water crises in Brandfort, where I asked the Human Rights Commission and the department of water affairs to investigate. The commission found the municipality guilty of failing to provide basic services to the community and have now been put on terms.

“They’re required to implement a series of steps to make sure that they fix the water problems in the municipality by a certain date or there will be consequences. I am going to implement the same plan over here and everywhere we go where we find our people have been denied basic human rights and in particular water.”

Monyela told Mazibuko that they did not have much choice but to drink the same water that they have been standing in.

“There is no water coming from the taps. This is our only source of water and it has been for some time now,” Monyela said.

Another resident, Violet Mojapelo, said the rainy season was the only season when they have enough water. “We’ve spent the Christmas festive period without water in Tsakani, where we have taps in the village, but they’re dry. We have lost hope and are now used to sharing water with animals form this stream, which can also run dry sometimes,” she said.

Limpopo has been in the news because of acute water shortages and a huge project that has not done much to address the crisis.

The multimillion-rand Nandoni Dam in the Vhembe region was completed a decade ago near Thohoyandou, but just a tiny part of the communities of more than 50 villages were getting water from the dam.

Another dam, De Hoop, was recently officially opened by President Jacob Zuma in the Sekhukhune region. Although it is completed, the process of laying bulk water supply pipes and getting the water to end users has been very slow, leaving a number of villages still struggling with access to clean and safe water.

Read: SA at work: De Hoop, Limpopo’s great water hope

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