South Africa's scarce water resources look set to become the next political football for parties ahead of the general election next year.
On Friday, political parties in Parliament debated the country's water supply challenges, and almost all of them used the opportunity to call on the voters to vote for them.
The topic of the debate, sponsored by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) deputy leader Floyd Shivambu, comes amid severe water challenges, especially in Gauteng.
"Thirty years is too long a period to not provide a basic human right, a basic need. To come here and talk about billions that and billions this - its meaningless. Failure to provide water to all the areas is a dismal failure and the ruling party must be able to accept that. There are people who are adults now, but we still have a government that has failed to provide water," Shivambu said.
"If you can stand on top of any mountain and claim you have brought water, our people don’t have water. The only solution is to take them out of power and establish a socialist government of the EFF."
In October, News24 reported that, as with the load shedding crisis, water security in South Africa was predicted to worsen in the coming decade.
The knock-on effect of infrastructural neglect has brought about a decline in the quality of municipal services, while municipal consumer debt was just over R294 billion as of March this year.
A year ago, municipal consumers owed councils R255.2-billion.
Deputy Water and Sanitation Minister David Mahlobo said nobody could deny that access to water had improved.
"Our country remains a water scarce country, but as the ANC, we want to assure South Africans that our water balance, we don't have a problem. We must admit that there are localised deficits, on the basis of climate change," he said.
"The ANC-led government has, to ensure we don't run out of water, we have been in a position to unlock many of the major infrastructure projects. Most of the delays on projects have been unlocked."
'A caring government'
Democratic Alliance MP Stephen Moore said it was long overdue that the country paid attention to the water crisis.
"This quite literally threatens the lives of South Africans. Gauteng's population has grown from around 12-million in 2011 to over 15-million today. Rand Water, the province’s main water supplier also supplies to Mpumalanga, the North West and the Free State. Rand Water loses about 6% of water due leakages," he said.
"As the ANC government continues to fail in supplying water, chaos will be the new normal. South Africans should have no confidence in the ANC to fix the mess they created."
Previously, News24 reported that Rand Water - the largest bulk water utility supplying Gauteng, parts of Mpumalanga, the Free State and North West - had lost R878 102 393 in revenue in the 2021/22 financial year.
ANC MP Mookgo Maria Matuba said it was indisputable that the ANC had worked to give more South Africans access to water.
"No one can dispute the fact that the ANC government has since 1994 implemented massive water projects amounting to billions of rands. The rolling out of these infrastructure projects by our democratic government is done to progressively realise the access to water for especially the historically disadvantage," she said.
"As a member of the ANC, I hope that South Africans will use the opportunity to ensure that they vote in their numbers for a caring government, which is the ANC."