Skip to Content

Illegal miners in Welkom; Rands

South Africa: Paying municipal residents face severe water shortages

White paying residents in small towns in the Free State, in South Africa, are facing severe water shortages after the Department of Water and Sanitation’s threatened to cut off the water supply for non-payment by municipalities.

Published: December 6, 2017, 6:42 am

    All the municipalities in the province are run by the governing ANC party and they may only employ black staff due to Affirmative Action laws. The mismanagement of funds at a local governing level is rife and has been reported widely in the South African media.

    “The Department of Water and Sanitation’s threat to cut off the water supply to the Free State municipalities that owe nearly R3 billion to water boards, is a slap in the face of paying residents,” says Jan van Niekerk, FF Plus provincial leader in the Free State.

    The Department is threatening to cut off the water supply to seven Free State municipalities if they do not pay their outstanding water accounts by the 8th of December.

    Opposition parties have asked the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, to reconsider cutting off the water supply to the municipalities that have fallen behind with their payments.

    “Tax payers in the Free State are already heavily burdened with constant water shortages and increased water tariffs that were implemented as protective measures in drought-stricken municipal regions.

    “Not only is access to water a Constitutional right, but it would also be unfair to allow paying residents to be adversely affected due to the mismanagement of municipalities, water boards and water suppliers.

    “It is the Department and municipalities’ duty to ensure that water accounts are paid.

    “Paying residents should not have to suffer due to situations like the one in Mangaung, where there are disputes between the municipality and Bloem Water. It is not the residents’ problem to solve. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that debt does not escalate to a point where threats that the water supply will be cut off are made,” says Van Niekerk.

    With a debt of just over R3.5-billion owed to power utility Eskom and the Sedibeng Water Board for basic services, Matjhabeng municipality in the Free State is, on paper, currently the worst-run municipality in South Africa.

    The water waste is horrendous. The black township of Thabong‚ which forms part of the Matjhabeng Local Municipality‚ has gained a reputation for being one of the worst-run municipalities in the country, Timeslive reported.

    In Thabong‚ outside the mining town of Welkom, water leaks even in affluent suburbs number around 400 on any given day. Raw sewage runs down several roads.

    Crime too has increased because every single street lamp along its main road has been cut down and sold for scrap‚ leaving residents in darkness.

    Since its inception in 2000‚ Matjhabeng has received qualified audit opinions consistently‚ confirming suspicions of corruption running rampant, according to Timeslive.

    On Friday ANC municipal officials were informed of their second unqualified audit noted by the South African Auditor General in two years.

    Minister of Water Affairs Nomvula Mokonyane last week had included Matjhabeng in a list of municipalities that have defaulted on their water bill.

    The municipality faces challenges in terms of revenue collection despite a flourishing wealthy illegal mining sector. On average‚ revenue collection only just tops 35 percent with non-white wards collecting only 2 percent of actual billing. Residents owe the municipality around R2-billion.

    One municipal official‚ who spoke on condition of anonymity‚ said there was evidence of the involvement of local police in illegal mining activity. “We believe gold is smuggled out through the private airport‚ to Dubai and other places‚” the official said.

    Municipal spokesman Kgojane Matutle‚ blamed illegal mining for the water problems. He said that in several areas water pipes were tapped into to wash illegally mined gold. “It is a daily occurrence. We send someone to fix a pipe today‚ and tomorrow they break the pipe again‚” Matutle said.

    But copper cable theft, not related to mining, is also costing the municipality some R2-million every month.

    The debt crisis is not limited to only one mining municipality however. Free State municipalities’ outstanding debt to water boards presently amounts to:

    Mangaung : R349,227,064.00
    (Bloemfontein, Botshabelo, Dewetsdorp, Mangaung, Thaba Nchu, Van Stadensrus, Wepener)

    Kopanong : R196,689,402.00
    (Bethulie, Edenburg, Fauresmith, Gariep Dam, Jagersfontein, Philippolis, Reddersburg, Springfontein, Trompsburg, Waterkloof)

    Ngwathe : R83,322,099.00
    (Edenville, Heilbron, Koppies, Parys, Vredefort)

    Mafube : R159,850,470.00
    (Cornelia, Frankfort, Tweeling, Villiers)

    Maluti-a-Phofung : R233,925,937.00
    (Harrismith, Kestell, Phuthaditjhaba)

    Mathjabeng : R1,849,226,784.00
    (Allanridge, Hennenman, Odendaalsrus, Ventersburg, Virginia, Welkom)

    Nala : R126,954,981.00
    (Bothaville, Wesselsbron)

    TOTAL : R2,999,196,737.00

    Schalk van der Merwe‚ provincial chairman of the Small Business Institute‚ questioned the management of Matjhabeng’s debt book.

    “For these guys to actually balance their books they must show that they have a huge amount of debt outstanding from the people that are supposed to buy from them. And we asked them for a list of businesses in the area who have outstanding debt‚ and we found some factories who have bills of R200-million. That is impossible‚ you can’t even use that amount of energy‚ never mind be in arrears to that amount‚” he said.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    Africa

    South Africa’s new president dashes hope of moderates

    Those still hoping that South Africa's new President, Cyril Ramaphosa, would represent a positive, new chapter for South Africa, had their hopes dashed on Wednesday.

    South African president Zuma resigns after party turns on him

    PretoriaSouth African president Jacob Zuma resigned on Wednesday after his party, the African National Congress (ANC) forced him to leave.

    South Africa: 143 mental patients dead in communist-style atrocity

    The Life Esidimeni scandal has demonstrated to what extent South Africa is emulating 20th-century communist societies, with 143 patients "dying of torture" in mental hospitals run by unlicensed NGOs, and another 55 simply "disappearing".

    ‘White men you must die’ say South African blacks at Overvaal school

    After losing a court case against a school over language, a provincial education department whipped up racial hatred against white pupils, their parents and teachers.

    South African president-in-waiting wants to ‘confiscate white farms without compensation’

    PretoriaThe newly elected leader of South Africa's ruling ANC (African National Congress), Cyril Ramaphosa, has come out strongly in favour of a Zimbabwe-style land grab in the country, promising to confiscate white-owned farms without compensation.

    Economic Freedom Fighters trash H&M stores in South Africa

    JohannesburgThe Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) damaged multiple H&M shops in South Africa, including in Gauteng, the Western Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal against "racism" in a catalogue.

    South Africa: New ANC leader promises Zim-style landgrab

    PretoriaCyril Ramaphosa, the new president of South Africa's ruling ANC, wants to seize land from white South Africans without compensation as part of an ANC policy of "radical economic transformation".

    South Africa’s new leader will be an oligarch or a Zuma clan leader

    This weekend a titanic leadership struggle takes place in South African when the ruling ANC elects a new party leader.

    Mugabe steps down from leading a country to complete ruin

    Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has stepped down. The African liberation "hero" and one of the world's most notorious dictators, resigned as president on Tuesday, a week after the army and his former political allies moved against him.

    Robert Mugabe’s fate uncertain after bloodless coup hits Zimbabwe

    The Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, has been deposed of by soldiers who surrounded his official and private residences, as well as other government buildings in what amounts to a bloodless coup.

    Go to archive