Deepening Democracy through Access to Information
Home / Statements RSS ← Back

Email this article

separate emails by commas, maximum limit of 4 addresses

Sponsored by


Article Enquiry

The ANC is all tapped out: South African water service delivery and infrastructure in dire straights


Embed Video

The ANC is all tapped out: South African water service delivery and infrastructure in dire straights

The ANC is all tapped out: South African water service delivery and infrastructure in dire straights
Photo by Bloomberg

2nd April 2024


Font size: -+

/ MEDIA STATEMENT / The content on this page is not written by, but is supplied by third parties. This content does not constitute news reporting by

“Looking at the water infrastructure crises in South Africa, the ANC has been asleep at the wheel for three decades.” 

So, Deputy President Paul Mashatile tells us he has been appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to lead a task team on the water crisis in the country and one of the urgent priorities is to address the ailing water infrastructure. It is almost comical that this happens exactly two months ahead of the most important election in the African National Congress’ (ANC) history. The United Democratic Movement (UDM) would contend that this is a little too late.


The horrendous water stories that weekly flood our media bear testimony of how the so called “water crisis”, has morphed into crisés. Just this past week UDM President, Bantu Holomisa, MP posted on X (with accompanying pictures) about the filthy water in Parys (Free State).

Recently it was reported that the citizens from Sekiding Village (Blouberg Municipality) in Limpopo have not had access to running water for years and share their drinking water with livestock and they have to travel far to a pond to scoop water into containers.


Just yesterday, the Emfuleni Local Municipality in Gauteng has confirmed that water supply in some parts of the Vaal area including Sebokeng Zone 7, Palm Springs, Beverley Hills, Lakeside and Everton has been contaminated by sewerage! That sewage inevitably ends up in rivers and other water bodies such as the Vaal Dam and Hartbeespoort Dam is inevitable. Thinking of last year’s cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal is evidence of how broken the sewerage system is. 

In February 2024, Knysna ANC Mayor, Aubrey Tsengwa, admitted about their water crisis that: “We’ve got an old infrastructure which was last installed 30-years-ago. Our asbestos pipes keeps breaking now…” Mayor Tsengwa, and so? For thirty years between the Democratic Alliance and the ANC you were doing what with the pipes? Smoking them?

The UDM filed a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), against uMzinyathi District Municipality on behalf of the Msinga Community (KwaZulu-Natal) in September 2019. In 2023, the SAHRC issued its “KZN Water Inquiry Report”, which vindicated the UDM in KwaZulu-Natal. This has been a warning to the uMzinyathi District Municipality against infringing upon the Msinga Community's right to access to water, which is guaranteed by Section 27(1)(b) of the Constitution.

The SAHRC report clearly states about the state of the water infrastructure in KwaZulu-Natal that: “As a general issue, challenges in access to sufficient water are not related to the scarcity of water resources itself, but more to the delivery of water by municipalities to customers. These delivery issues are mostly occasioned by poor management, the lack of proper planning, the lack of accountability and leadership, and the failure to prioritise critical components necessary for effective service delivery.” and that “The challenges that most municipalities face are cumulative issues that have been aggravated by years of neglect, lack of service and maintenance of infrastructure…”

The SAHRC had issued a provisional investigative report on 4 December 2023 and the UDM in KwaZulu-Natal has prevailed in the name of the Msinga Community. We are now awaiting the signature of the Commissioner on the final report in enforcing the findings of the SAHRC.

On 20 March 2024, Northern Cape MEC for Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, Bentley Vass, stated about the water problems in Warrenton in the Northern Cape that: “The historical issues in the municipality require urgent and comprehensive recapitalisation. This is because the infrastructure is old and has reached its design life and, on the other hand, there has never been any water infrastructure installed in some areas.”

Mcebo Hlathi from Swalala Village in Mbombela Municipality in Mpumalanga made the most painful statement to the media in March 2024 saying that: “The last time we saw a drop of water coming out of the tap was about 15 years ago. I remember this very well, because that was when my nephew was born.”

The project of water supply and reticulation of the villages of the King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality started many years ago. But, because of corruption it has come to a standstill. Thousands of residents living in the villages of Mthatha and Mqanduli up to Coffee Bay are without water due to the abysmal failure of the OR Tambo District Municipality’s water and sanitation projects. Amongst some of the corrupt practices, according to reports, a cool R170 million was allegedly paid in advance to the service provider on the project and not a single jot of work had allegedly been done by June 2020. The UDM reported this alleged corruption to the Auditor-General and National Treasury in 2020, yet, nothing was done. 

The point of these provincial examples is but to showcase that there are problems in almost all the provinces.  Deputy President Mashatile certainly has a lot of work to do in eight weeks; work that hadn’t been done by the ANC in three decades!

In addition, the UDM found it rather ironic that Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa and Minister of Police Bheki Cele formed part of the water team, as they had enough problems of their own and should be focussing on their own portfolios.

The UDM has long held the policy that government should be developing a water system that not only provides for current needs, but is also capable of coping with increased future consumption for a growing nation. We have been hammering the fact that the infrastructure of South Africa has been neglected and those of the townships and former homelands had to be brought on par. Now the chickens have come home to roost. 

Since the UDM’s inception we have punted the concept of addressing unemployment through the Department of Public Works as a generator of infrastructure on a large scale. The Planned Sustainable Development programmes, we are advocating for, will be driven by the central government through the Department of Public Works and will involve various government departments and agencies, as well as business, labour, civil society and the affected communities – which at this stage appears to be the entire South Africa.

What boggles the mind is that the ANC has been at the helm of this country for thirty years; what the current state of affairs means is that they have in essence been idle on the water front during that entire time. They have added no value to the existing water infrastructure and have not maintained what they have inherited. 

It is clear that Deputy President Mashatile will have a lot on his plate in the coming weeks as he will surely have to campaign for the Always Nurturing Corruption, saving our water infrastructure, over and above his usual duties. One thing is for certain, he and his HydroSquad won’t rectify the entire country before 29 May 2024. 


Issued by Secretary General of the United Democratic Movement Yongama Zigebe




To subscribe email or click here
To advertise email or click here

Comment Guidelines


About is a product of Creamer Media.

Other Creamer Media Products include:
Engineering News
Mining Weekly
Research Channel Africa

Read more


We offer a variety of subscriptions to our Magazine, Website, PDF Reports and our photo library.

Subscriptions are available via the Creamer Media Store.

View store


Advertising on is an effective way to build and consolidate a company's profile among clients and prospective clients. Email

View options
Free daily email newsletter Register Now