Remove Water From the Marketplace

by Sep 2, 2010All Articles

Water has long been an issue of social delivery struggles across South Africa. The right to water is a socioeconomic right enshrined in the Constitution. However, it remains a paper right. In spite of the 6 kl of free water for households, access to water has been eroded through the imposition of pre-paid water metres.

However, the Phiri Five, a group of Soweto residents, has ensured this struggle reaches the High Court, in order to back up the struggles they have been waging at the grassroots. Through the court they seek to be supplied with 50 kl of water per person per day, and to have the imposition of pre-paid water metres declared unconstitutional.

The 6 kl of free water is said to run out after just 12 days when used modestly in small households. The case represents a landmark for social delivery struggles and the social movements that having been taking up these struggles. The Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee, which logically expanded their struggle from electricity cut-offs to water, together with the Anti-Privatisation Forum, will see the struggles in the courts as the fruition of many years of mobilisation against the commodification of water and other basic services.

The case’s prominence at the High Court will hopefully set a precedent for other cases of this nature, and build a strong profile for anti-privatisation struggles in other communities. Water is a right, and must be removed from the marketplace if it is to remain true to the Constitution.

Read more articles from Amandla! Issue #3, December 2007

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