Thirsty villagers

MOHALE’S-HOEK – TO protect themselves from coronavirus, residents of Ha-Ramarumo and Liphiring, like other people across the world, are being encouraged to wash their hands regularly using running water.
Yet, in these two areas, people hardly have any water to drink. Washing hands is a luxury.
“How can we do that when we don’t have water?” asked ‘Mareitumetse Mokhoabane of Ha-Ramarumo.

Mokhoabane said it takes her almost three hours to finally get water after standing in a long queue for hours.
When she is lucky to get the commodity she pays M10 for 10 litres of water at one of the village households where there is a well.
“It doesn’t even last,” she said, adding, “Our crops wilt because we cannot irrigate them.”
“Sometimes we drink from the same pond with animals,” she said, adding that at times residents have to climb the nearby mountain to get drinking water.

“We go to a donga to fetch water to bath, do laundry and other house chores,” she said, pitying children and elderly people who have to endure the water shortages.
“It is not easy for them to go and find water from such far-away places. Water is a basic need but we are stranded,” she said.
Mokhoaboane was speaking following a visit to the area by the Deputy Minister of Water Lepota Sekola last week.

The chairman of Ha-Ramarumo water committee, Matalajoe Tsanyane, said water infrastructure was failing to meet the growing needs of the community.
“The population is growing hence we need more tanks and pipes to reach the whole community,” he said.

He said the community had been “calling out to those responsible but nothing has happened”.
“We don’t know what to do anymore. We expect the deputy minister to intervene,” he said.
He commended the local MP, Sentje Lebona, for assisting the community.

“Now that I have great support from our MP, I believe my dream (for reliable water supply) will come true,” he said.
Tšeliso Molikoane, a water committee member at Liphiring, said people in the community have tried to get government assistance without success for decades.

“Those people (government officials) are heartless; they kept coming and making empty promises. They did not change anything as all they did was talk… it is cheap (to talk),” he said.
He said they have about nine sources of water but “they are useless as we are still suffering.”
He urged the officials to stop “hurting” the people with unfulfilled promises.

“All they master is taking our votes and then afterwards play with our feelings,” he said.
Chieftainess ‘Mannetlele Ramarumo said the root cause of their problem was the illegal settling of some people on water sources.
Ramarumo said she teamed up with her Principal Chief on several occasions to talk to parties involved in the matter but the responses have been unsatisfactory.
“We were very hurt and we were planning to involve the courts,” she said.

Ramarumo described the visit by deputy minister Sekola as “promising” even though residents still don’t have water.
Chieftainess Mary Raboroko said government officials have been lying to residents for years now.
She said they always preach that they will help those who try (moketa ho tsosoa o itekang)

“But other than helping they destroy us even more, we don’t know what sin we have committed to be neglected like this. Water is all we need,” said Raboroko.
“We are on our own in everything we do because we have no one to complement our efforts,” she said.
Councillor Howard Masite said he always reported the needs of his constituency to council authorities but it seemed the villagers did not trust him.

He said Taung has 12 EDs and the monetary allocation is inadequate.
“That money is not enough,” he said, adding that nurses have been leaving the local clinic because of lack of water.
He said the previous deputy minister visited the clinic and pledged to help but never fulfilled the promise.

“The most painful thing is this clinic is our mini-hospital,” said Masite.
The elderly who now struggle to walk long distances for water are often forced to part ways with their pension money to pay youths who fetch water for them for a fee, said Molikoane, the water committee member in Liphiring.
“They have been crying for long and hopefully their tears will be wiped and we will finally rejoice,” said Molikoane.
MP Sentje Lebona said he has been approaching the ministry for assistance for years to no avail.

Liphiring MP Selemo Mangobe said he called the deputy minister last Wednesday to inform him of the crisis.
“I was trying my luck and fortunately he responded,” he said.
Deputy Minister Sekola told the residents during his visit that the government is committed to providing clean water, pledging to address the concerns about water scarcity.

“We will fulfill our mandate,” said Sekola.
But for villagers who have heard such promises before, all they can do is hope that this time around, a politician will deliver on their promises.
“I am hopeful that this time around there will be action,” said ‘Matšepo Koebe from Ha Ramarumo.

‘Mapule Motsopa

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