A PROTEST about the lack of water in two rural communities had a happy ending this week when local farmers came to their aid with donations of water after Makana Municipality failed to keep its commitment.
On June 21 members of the Masizame Community Property Association blocked the road from Alexandria to Salem in protest at their lack of water. Then, on Monday, members at the Salem community blocked the R343 from Kenton-on-Sea to Grahamstown.
“It was established that both these communities were without any water for themselves or their livestock,” Alexandria farmer Brent McNamara said.
Both communities are currently supplied by water tanker by the Makana Municipality from Grahamstown.
“Organised agriculture has repeatedly warned government that the ongoing practise of establishing these so called agri villages in the rural areas away from municipal services, and in many instances on agricultural properties with marginal potential, is unsustainable,” McNamara said.
The Makana Municipality, which is on the brink of financial collapse, cannot maintain its fleet of water tankers, and currently only has one tanker serviceable to service the entire municipal area, including outlying villages and community farms.
“While we can debate the failures of government and their ill-conceived ideas and policies, it is again the most vulnerable that bear the consequences,” McNamara said.
“Agri villages without proper services, one hectare-one household and one household-two cows are just some of the policies of the department of rural development and land reform that are doomed to failure.”
McNamara said farmer Melt Heyneke co-ordinated assistance for the communities by providing drinking water in a tanker as well as bottled water.
“It was extremely gratifying to see this,” McNamara said.
“Access to safe drinking water is a basic right, and while organised agriculture does not condone the blocking of roads in protest, we do have sympathy with the plight of these communities.”
He said commercial farmers in the area were under extreme water stress themselves, and would not be able to assist these communities indefinitely.