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Parties promise to fix infrastructure as water bubbles away under their feet

The parties contesting Ward 117 in Parktown North and Parkhurst say they weren't aware of a weeklong water leak just a few blocks from a voting station.

01 November 2021 - 16:12
Just a couple blocks from where voters are casting their ballots in Parkhurst, Johannesburg, water trickles from a damaged pipe as it has done for more than a week.
Just a couple blocks from where voters are casting their ballots in Parkhurst, Johannesburg, water trickles from a damaged pipe as it has done for more than a week.
Image: Paul Ash

As politicians continued to push the message that all Johannesburg’s voters want is infrastructure that works, none of the three parties contesting one city ward knew anything about a damaged pipe a few blocks from the polling station from which precious water has been flowing for more than a  week.

Water from the pipe, which feeds residents and businesses in the leafy suburbs of Parkhurst and Parktown North, has been bubbling up through the road surface since Monday last week when it was first spotted by a TimesLIVE reporter.

DA activist Keith Bone, who was representing the party at the polling station at Parkhurst Primary School on Monday, said he was unaware of the leak.

“I don’t know about it,” he said. “I live in Parkhurst but I haven’t seen it.”

ActionSA national chairperson and ward resident Michael Beaumont said he also had not heard about the leaking pipe. He urged TimesLIVE to send him details which he would escalate with the city.

ANC Ward 117 candidate Christo Morolong was also not aware of it.

“With leakages we normally encourage residents to report it directly to the utility, Joburg Water,” he said. “They can also send it directly to me and I will follow-up with Joburg Water.” 

The city’s infrastructure was failing the people, he added. “It’s an old infrastructure, it cannot hold.”

The issue of infrastructure was one of the mandates that had come from President Cyril Ramaphosa himself.

“We have ailing infrastructure in this ward, we want to renew that,” he said. 

Despite ongoing problems with broken pipes and leaks, Morolong said the city was dealing with the problem “significantly” in terms of its capital projects.

All three parties' representatives said they were pleased with both the organisation and voter turnout in Parkhurst on Monday. 

Morolong said the morning had been “really exciting”.

“It was all systems go with the IEC at 7am; there was a long queue of people ready to cast their votes and I'm happy about that.”

As voters cast their ballots in South Africa' s local government elections on Monday November 1, water trickles from a broken pipe in the upscale suburb of Parkhurst, Johannesburg. Despite campaigning on promises of fixing the city's ailing water, electricity and road infrastructure, none of the representatives from the three parties contesting the ward knew anything about this damaged pipe which has been leaking water for more than a week just blocks from the polling station.

ActionSA’s Beaumont said the queues had been “nice and long” and he anticipated there would be a steady stream of people throughout the day.

“It’s all about the bread and butter issues,” he said. “People are tired of politics. What they are looking for are streets to be repaired, their street lights to work, their refuse to be collected on time and their bills to be accurate.”

Those were the basics that whoever governed the ward needed to get right.

Beaumont was not concerned that Action SA would split the votes of other political parties.

“One shouldn’t look to a party that’s receiving that support as the problem, but look to the parties that are [losing] that support, because their conduct over many years has driven people away from them.

“People are fed up with the old politics. They want something different.”

The DA's Bone said the queues were moving quickly. “It’s still pretty early in the day,” he said, adding that he expected his party would “do well”. 

If the party retained the ward, it was important for it “to speak to people more often and have more communication between ourselves and the voters,” he said. “The shake-up over the past couple of years has proven that.”

It was critical for funding to be focused on water and electricity across the city, he added. “A lot of the problem is that the money is dedicated to it but not spent well.”

Voters, meanwhile, seemed less upbeat over what the day would bring. 

One voter, who declined to be named, said he had “mixed feelings” about the election. 

“I’d rather not say, to be honest,” he said when asked for more detail.

Another voter said, “It’s just more of the same”.

Other voters flatly refused to talk to TimesLIVE. 

“I’m not a talker,” said one man, replacing his face mask and walking away. “No thanks,” said a woman bustling away from the entrance, “but good luck with your day”.

Three blocks from the school, waste picker Daniel Mazibuko took a break from sorting plastic waste to say that parties would only understand the needs of the voters when they had first-hand experience of the problems they were promising to solve.

“We need a person who has experience of unemployment,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mazibuko was scathing about the election process.

“Voting for one another to sit on the chair ... first of all, the people being put on the chair can hardly spell their own names,” he said.

The city had since started repairing the leaking water main. As of Monday, the road around the pipe had been dug up but water was still gushing from the pipe and into the storm water drain. There was no sign of any work being carried out.

However, a young resident from one of the houses told TimesLIVE the work had begun on Sunday.



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