On 13 October, the Inyanda National Land Movement, representing 68 villages in Middledrift, marched to the provincial Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) in Bhisho, Eastern Cape. They presented a memorandum urging Eastern Cape Municipalities to urgently address the escalating water crisis in the province, emphasizing the violation of their basic right to water.

Similarly, two years ago, Masifundise and Coastal Links Eastern Cape filed an urgent application to the Mthatha High Court in a desperate effort to get the government to supply the rural community of Centane, who has been without water since 2017, with basic water services.

On 1 October 2021, the Mthatha High Court ordered local, provincial, and national governments to plan for providing clean water to Ward 28 in Mnquma Municipality. They had two months to report back. On 12 November 2021, the Centane community returned to court as the Minister for Water and Sanitation, COGTA, and the Eastern Cape Premier failed to submit required affidavits. As of 2022, the communities were still awaiting action. COGTA Minister Nkosazana Zuma and Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane were instructed by the court to explain their failure to comply with orders issued on 12 October and 12 November 2021, which called for immediate plans to provide clean water to the municipality’s residents.

In September this year, Lulamile Khetshimiya from Coastal links Eastern Cape and Boyisile Mafilika from Masifundise, who are also applicants in the case, signed affidavits in another attempt to urge the court to enforce Amathole District Municipality to obey interim court rulings following the court judgment dating back to 2021.

“Based on the ruling they were to deliver water into ward 28 by trucks and have a roving vehicle to pump up reservoir generator with diesel 24/7 days a week but this is not happening. Additionally, they were to install another borehole to assist the current ones and the Court ordered them to hire a water specialist to assist them with water challenges. None of these have been acted upon.” said Boyisile.

The residents face a daily violation of their constitutionally guaranteed water rights (sections 24 and 27). It is the duty of all government spheres to ensure efficient, equitable, and sustainable water and sanitation services. They must aim to provide a sufficient water supply and sanitation for subsistence and economic activity.

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