The DA and civil rights organization AfriForum are calling for urgent intervention in the water crisis that is currently crippling the Free State town of Parys.
On Wednesday, AfriForum addressed a letter to Senzo Mchunu, the Minister of Water and Sanitation, about the crisis, while the DA wrote to Ketso Makume, the Free State MEC of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), as well as the Free State Prime Minister, Mxolisi Dukwana. wrote.
Many residents in Parys and the Thumahole settlement have been without water for the umpteenth time this year for two weeks or longer (about 16 days).
Some of these residents are elderly or vulnerable and complain that they have not been offered alternative access to water and therefore face serious crises.
Mchunu said during a recent meeting that he could be held responsible if there are still water problems in Paris. Since then, however, nothing has improved, says Alta Pretorius, AfriForum’s district coordinator for Mooirivier.
According to Pretorius, the minister insisted in the recent meeting that the Ngwathe local municipality, which serves Parys, must immediately purchase a generator so that the water works can still work during power cuts.
“Mchunu also mentioned that he insists that there must be proper security because the municipality talked about vandalism. He also insists that key positions such as those of municipal manager, chief financial officer and directors must be filled with competent people as soon as possible. So far, however, nothing has changed,” says Pretorius.
“AfriForum has learned that a municipal manager must first be appointed to approve the purchase of a generator. There is also still almost no security service at the waterworks – the gate is open and anyone can enter.
“It is unacceptable that the residents of Paris have to suffer so much, especially after the minister has undertaken to see that the necessary is done. Competent appointments must now be urgently made in these key positions so that members of the Ngwathe local municipality can do their work.”
Roy Jankielsohn, the DA leader in the Free State, says that there are also residents without power that are not related to load shedding.
“This issue is now rapidly degenerating into a serious disaster that threatens the lives and livelihoods of residents. Urgent intervention is required by the provincial government to ensure that the livelihood, health and safety of residents are not further harmed,” says Jankielsohn.
According to Jankielsohn, the shortage of clean tap water is particularly worrying after the recent cholera outbreak.
“The Charter of Human Rights and the Water Services Act require that everyone in South Africa has the right to access basic water and sanitation services. The lack of access to potable water is a serious human rights violation and significantly increases the risks of waterborne diseases.”
The DA suspects that water infrastructure is being interfered with and that access to water is being used as a political tool to target some communities and cause unrest in this municipality.
“The DA calls on the Free State provincial government for the fair distribution of available water, that the necessary infrastructure is established to ensure access to reliable, safe water for residents and that the health and safety of all residents is respected.”
AfriForum demands that there must be positive feedback about the water supply by the end of the week, otherwise this organisation’s legal team will take the necessary steps.