COSATU Free State condemns the failure of the Deputy President’s Office to ensure reliable supply of water and electricity to MAP Municipality

The Congress of South African Trade Unions(COSATU) in the Free State is shocked that the Office of the Deputy President is sleeping on duty whilst the workers and community in Maluti-A-Phofung Municipality (MAP) are dying a very slow and painful death. In 2021, after a series of service delivery protests in MAP Municipality, the Office of the Deputy President was mandated by the State President to facilitate the resolution of the electricity and water crisis in MAP. The process has been continuing with very little contribution of the Federation and her Affiliate SAMWU, as some engagements were held above our heads. The problem of unreliable electricity and water supply has reached disaster levels and yet it remains business as usual for the second highest office in the land! 

For the past two to three weeks, there hasn’t been electricity supply at Phuthaditjhaba CBD. Businesses have not been able to operate. The community members who depend on the social grants have been unable to access their funds as the retailers have shut their doors. Banks are unable to operate as well due to lack of power supply.

Workers who are employed at factories have been unable to report for duty. Their reality of the ‘no work, no pay’ principle is applied due to minimum operations. In cases where those who managed to report for duty when generators were in use, employers paid reduced salaries as they claimed that generator gasoline is costly. Students who must write online tests have failed to do so due to the unavailability of electricity across the CBD including at the library.

Some stores have started to pack their ware onto trucks and exiting the space because running business have not become viable for them. The area which is already highly impoverished with an extremely high unemployment rate will plunge even deeper into poverty as thousands of workers are on the verge of losing their jobs.

As the Federation, we have led several marches and engagements with the government both at provincial and local levels. Despite the deliberations in meetings, the situation in MAP municipality has worsened.

We have even gone knocking on the door of NEDLAC requesting Council to facilitate an amicable solution to the problem. Our issue remains securing a reliable supply of electricity and water to MAP. Workers are facing job losses as industries cannot meet their production deadlines due to permanent loadshedding in the area. Workers face continual hunger as they are unable to feed their dependants, the situation is arising out of the inability to buy food, store it in the freezer and ration the food through the month. 

Unfortunately, MAP officials continue to snub meetings and when present there is nothing tangible, they can present. The provincial government continuously laments the conduct of the municipality and seem to be unwilling to take steps to reign in or intervene on behalf of the workers and the community at large. The process continues to unfold but with no genuine commitment from the role players. We have lost hope that the process would yield any positive results which would bring lasting solutions to the problem.

We had hoped that the second highest office in the land would intervene decisively on this and other matters which are affecting our members and the community. However, the office of the Deputy President is lamenting and helpless like the rest of us in the whole NEDLAC process. Municipality snubs the meetings with the Office of the President being part of such meetings with absolutely no consequence.

Clearly the second highest office in the land, COGTA National and the Provincial Government are sleeping on duty and not marshalling the forces to deliver services to the community. As COSATU Free State we condemn this uncaring attitude from national offices and in the province. We hope the political heads will realize that they have been given power to govern and they will utilize that power for the benefit of the workers and the community at large!

As COSATU we will not rest until we secure reliable supply of water and electricity to the workers and the community in MAP Municipality.

The struggle continues!

Issued by COSATU Free State

Enquiries Provincial Secretary Monyatso oa Mahlatsi @ 051 447 5499 or 076 115 9923