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Sekhukhune communities fighting for water successfully petition Parliament

- Lee-Anne Bruce

Representatives from five villages in Limpopo will tomorrow be joined by Members of Parliament for a site inspection of their current water sources

Members of Parliament who sit on the Select Committee on Petitions will undertake a site inspection in the Sekhukhune District of Limpopo on Friday, 26 August. This follows a petition by representatives from five villages in the area which have not had proper access to water since 2009, despite securing a number of court orders against the Municipality.

The communities of Elandskraal, Morarela, Mbuzini, Dichoeng and Tsansabela have spent years trying to compel the Sekhukhune District Municipality to provide the villages with proper water and sanitation. In 2015, the communities approached the High Court with the assistance of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS). Despite a number of court orders and contempt findings, the Municipality has consistently failed to comply with the directions of the court to fulfil its constitutional obligations – even in the midst of a deadly pandemic.

At the end of last year, with the assistance of the Right2Protest Project (R2P), the communities drafted a petition to draw attention to their struggle. This petition was later submitted to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation, and to the Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings. The communities asked the Portfolio Committee to hold the Department of Water and Sanitation accountable for the violation of their constitutional rights and disregard for court orders. They asked the Select Committee to recommend that the Municipal Council be dissolved and the Sekhukhune District Municipality be placed under administration.

The Select Committee heard the petition on 9 June 2022 and engaged meaningfully with community members and their legal representatives and called the Municipality to account. One of the most promising outcomes of the proceedings was a commitment by the Select Committee to conduct a site inspection in an attempt to investigate the issues raised in the petition and help finalise its recommendations. That inspection is taking place on Friday, 26 August 2022, from 10:30 – 15:00. The delegation is expected to meet with community representatives and officials from the Municipality and Limpopo provincial government as well as inspect the water sources used by the communities. 

“It has been gratifying to see our democracy in action and have Members of Parliament take the concerns of their constituents seriously,” says Nokuthula Ndlovu from CALS. “We are hopeful that this will be a step towards the ultimate goal of ensuring communities in Sekhukhune and around the country do not have to keep facing the indignity and danger of living without proper access to water.”

“We hope this outcome encourages communities to voice their dissent against injustices,” says Busisiwe Zasekhaya from R2P. “We’d also like to thank the team at Change.Org  for their invaluable support in amplifying the voices of the people of Ga-Sekhukhune.”

Read the petition ‘Life Without Water’ here

Watch the full hearing of the Select Committee here

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