State of service delivery in Free State amongst worst: SAHRC

Service Delivery
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The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has ranked the state of service delivery in the Free State amongst the worst performing provinces. The commission held a week-long enquiry where all municipalities were invited to account on service delivery.

Commissioner Dr Henk Boshoff says Kopanong is the only municipality in the province that didn’t show up. The commission has conducted similar enquiries in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

The commission reports that there are many human rights violations in the province. It says municipalities in the Free State rank second in the country with households still utilising bucket toilets.

It says the use of bucket toilets is an indictment on authorities. And that poor service delivery points to lack of political will.

According to the outcome of the enquiry, municipalities struggle with refuse collection, water and housing provision, as well as bad roads. The commission says poor service delivery deprives people of their dignity and basic human rights.

“There are serious human rights violations in our municipalities. I mean raw sewer is flowing into our rivers and its affecting the health of our citizens. There are so many cases of cholera that have been reported. Criminal cases have been opened against three accounting officers in the Free State province because of raw sewer being spilled into our rivers and those were the serious human rights violations that we have identified in the Free State,” Boshoff eleborates.

Underspending rife

Aging infrastructure is not the only challenge municipalities are grappling with. The commission says underspending is rife in the province. This also means that fewer municipalities are able to demonstrate that they are viable. Boshoff further explains:

“Some municipalities stated that they were grant dependent and struggled with revenue collection from residents. They are certain that this impeded their ability to fund capital projects and to effectively deliver sustainable services to communities within their jurisdictions.”

Residents from across the province have also weighed in on the shortcomings of municipalities on delivery of services.

“Our rights are being violated and we are not treated like human beings. Especially our councillors, because I’m very sure that they are not using the same toilet that we are using. So they don’t feel our pain. We are tired for the pit toilets. We want change in our area.”

“Firstly, we go to people who have toilets like my neighbour she does borrow me her toilet. But it’s a problem at night obviously I have to use a bucket. And then afterwards in terms of electricity we go and charge at my friend with R5. And if you don’t have R5 because unemployment is very high, ANC does not even hire youth so that’s a problem. So we go and charge the phone with money in areas that have electricity.”

“We don’t have water for 15 years now. We do have a proper developed place. However, it doesn’t have a sewerage system and does not have any water. The water that we use is the water that we have connected illegally from other places where we can find water. And we spoke to all the councillors regarding this issue we are about four councillors who have passed until the current one and none of them have assisted us with this issue.”

The commission says from accounts given by residents during the enquiry they show a gloomy state of affairs and grim lived experiences.

Boshoff says it will take about 15 years to turn the tide on service delivery.

‘Poor service delivery a major concern in FS’: