Despite threats by the residents of Emfuleni Local Municipality to boycott the municipal by-elections on Wednesday, a number of people turned up to vote even though the embattled municipality is facing water cuts due to non-payment.
The municipality, which includes areas such as Vereeniging, Vanderbijlpark, Evaton and Sebokeng, allegedly owes water supplier Rand Water about R1.1 billion.
It is the only municipality in Gauteng facing credit control measures implemented by Rand Water by reducing its water supply by 20%.
At Arcon Park Primary School in Vereeniging – one of the voting stations selected by the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) – some residents braved the rainy weather to cast their vote.
Although local resident Albert Sibiya is not happy about the state of service delivery by the municipality, he says all he wants is change.
“We can only hope that things will change because we are suffering and sometimes we don’t have water, which makes life very difficult for me and my family,” said Sibiya.
He said the municipality was their only hope for a better life.
Another resident, Nomkhitha Nkabinde, who was patiently waiting in the queue, which stretched from the gate to a nearby street, said she took the time to go and vote because she believes in the leadership of the municipality even though community members have complained for many years about financial mismanagement and corruption that has seen the municipality being put under administration.
“I believe that things will change. That is why I am here today to give my support to the ANC and I want to tell them that as the community we need better service delivery otherwise people will stop supporting them,” said Nkabinde.
She said the embattled municipality had to step up and deliver on its mandate, which is to provide service delivery to its residents and start fixing the roads and sewerage system.
“We are facing a big problem with sewage and trash that is lying all over the streets. Our children are at risk of getting diseases and falling sick because the municipality is not taking care of these problems,” she said.
According to the IEC, the by-elections were scheduled to take place in 95 wards across 461 voting districts nationwide.
They were supposed to have been held in March this year, but were postponed following the declaration of the national state of disaster and the imposition of lockdown restrictions to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.