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Right To Water Turned Into A Voting Campaign Rhetoric In Knysna Municipality

Despite being the best tourist attractions in South Africa, residence in Knysna are still yet to realise their human right to adequate water sanitation.

The 1st of  November 2021 Marks the sixth time South Africa is going for elections and throughout all the national and provincial elections the promise for people to realise their human right to get access to water has still been a bargaining tool for south Africans to get their votes.

According to Statistics SA household survey which was published on  Africa Choice, almost 26% of South African households reported “some dysfunctional water supply service” in 2019. This included a water interruption of two days at a time or 15 days in total.

Households in Limpopo (56.6%) and Mpumalanga (54.5%) reported the highest share of interruptions, while households in Western Cape (4.6%) and Gauteng (9.5%) had the fewest interruption.

An estimated 13.7% of black African headed households, the highest percentage in Stats SA’s population group category, did not have access to piped water. Households headed by people who identified as white followed, at 6%.

Municipalities are responsible for delivering services, including supplying water. Access to drinkable water is a human right in South Africa

The dirty water that looks unpurified, and brown served by Knysna Municipality to its locals is what’s expected of the poor who can’t afford to buy purified water to drink.

Jade Stevens who’s been a resident in Knysna for 28 years said

”Water interruptions occur regularly in our area, we can even stay without water for hours, and when it comes back, it’s brown.

I can’t afford to buy water every time this happens so I’m forced to boil my water and wait for it to get cold before I drink it, I work twice as hard to drink water, nothing comes easy to poor people “

In a webinar on Daily Maverick prominent economist, Xhanti Payi said the outbreak of Coronavirus infections in the country had exposed the inequalities in South African society, with water being a part of this.

“People have to brave social distancing to collect water and communities have to share toilets.

The government’s programmes have not adequately prepared us for this. We could have done things differently had we expanded our thinking about water as a human right.

Climatologist Simon Gear agreed that water was a fundamental human right. “It is a massive embarrassment for SA that so many households do not have access to water.” Gear said Covid-19 must “act as a wake-up call.” he said

With South Africa’s sixth municipal elections since the first democratic elections in 1994 approaching,  and politicians campaigning and promising the inevitable, it is important for South Africans to know that right to water is a Basic Human right, and the responsibility of the Municipality to see it is delivered to the people.

Objectives of local government are to provide democratic, and accountable government for local communities, to ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner.

Despite political parties campaigning to provide water to the people, water and sanitation remain the responsibility of municipalities.

Knysna Municipality admitted that the is a problem with potable water and issued out a press released

According to the press release, Knysna’s potable water has been discoloured recently but, Acting Municipal Dawid Adonis says, the water is perfectly safe to drink.

“We know about the water problem, we know what is causing it, and we are working to correct it.” said Adonis

According to the press release, the municipality has requested the assistance of experts in the field to propose solutions in eliminating the colour in water.

“While the quality of raw water pumped from Charlesford will clear once the new pumps have settled into the natural River sump, we have identified measures to improve the situation now.“ he said.

By Siphokazi Mnyobe

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