The Mangaung Metro Municipality struggles to render basic services such as supplying water. This cash-strapped municipality is deadlocked with defaulters and service providers who have resorted to legal action. Despite owing millions in unpaid water accounts, the Free State Department of Education has resorted to legal action to prohibit the municipality from cutting water supply. The department got a favourable verdict, preventing the municipality from cutting water supply to schools within the Mangaung region.In a dramatic turn of events, the service provider Bloemwater has acted in terms of Section 4 (5) of the Water Services Act 108 of 1997 to reduce water supply to the Mangaung Metro, citing the municipality’s failure to pay its water debt. Bloemwater issued a notice on Monday (09/09) to inform residents that water supply would again be reduced to reduce water to Mangaung owing to non-payment by the entity. The metro applied to the High Court in mid-July to prevent Bloemwater from reducing the water supply, and got a favourable judgment on 16 July. The water supplier then announced that it would again reduce supply in September, should the municipality fail to pay off the agreed amount. Qondile Khedama, spokesperson of the Mangaung Metro, said the city council would revisit the court order that was earlier lodged against Bloemwater. “The only amount that is not being paid is the amount in dispute. This is the same reason that forced the municipality to take the legal route; as one of the options.” “The executive mayor has approached the minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation to intervene in this prolonged dispute. “In our interaction with the South African Human Rights Commission, we were told that the abrupt water interruptions are violating residents’ human rights. warned of human rights’ violations as a result of the by Bloemwater,” said Khedama. He said tankers would supply water to all affected areas whilst negotiations were taking place.Ironically, the defaulters owing the Mangaung Metro have also resorted to legal action to prevent the municipality from cutting water supply.According to the metro, various departments, residents and businesses have large unpaid debts governmental Mangaung it is owed huge monies by consumers that Free State government departments, residents and businesses.Khedama said the total outstanding debt by consumers is R4 828 600 342,68. Residential debt is responsible for R3 014 043 077,52, businesses for R1 059 604 005,24, and government for R679 722 908,20, while sundry debt makes up R75 230 351,72.“Several initiatives were instituted by the municipality in order to correctly bill consumers,” said Khedama. He said the municipality’s methods of recovering outstanding monies included the disconnection of consumers with accounts in arrears, legal action against consumers who have failed to pay, the signing of arrangements with overdue consumers and the institution of debit orders to ensure that arrangements were up to date. Recovery of outstanding balances from employees of the municipality.