Potholes, water shortages and piles of trash – Free State residents take service delivery fight to court

Civil society group Afriforum and residents that form part of the Mafube Business Forum plan to bring a court challenge against president Cyril Ramaphosa and 16 other respondents in the Free State High Court on Thursday (27 January), in a fight to ensure the delivery of services in the Mafube Local Municipality.

The towns of Frankfort, Tweeling, Villiers and Cornelia are all managed by the Mafube Local Municipality in the Free State, which Afriforum said has failed to deliver basic services to the communities.

Notably, it said that the residents of Frankfort receive almost no municipal services, and suffer:

  • Regular water shortages;
  • No refuse removal;
  • A dysfunctional sewage system;
  • Potholes;
  • The municipality has not sent any municipal accounts for several years.

The Mafube Business Forum is bringing the court application on behalf of the residents of Frankfort. The group said the court case promises to establish important legal principles that will give communities the right to manage municipal services where these services have collapsed completely.

It has attached Ramaphosa and other cabinet members in the legal action as it argues the national government has failed to intervene in the municipality’s ongoing issues.

“Among others, we are seeking an order that would give us the right to manage a variety of municipal services for a limited period of time until the national government intervenes to restore service delivery,” said  Jacques Jansen van Vuuren, relations officer of the Mafube Business Forum.

“The rendering of these management services will be funded from the fiscus. We hope for a favourable court ruling after a drawn-out fight over many years with the municipality to render basic services. The community is sick and tired of empty promises and corruption.”

Although local governments are autonomous, there is still a supervisory authority within the Constitution for the provincial government to ensure that these services are rendered, said Morné Mostert, manager of Local Government Affairs at AfriForum.

“In this case, the provincial government was informed of the municipality’s problems, but they failed to intervene. This is why this obligation to ensure services lies with the national government. The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and eventually the president must intervene if the state does not comply with constitutional criteria.”

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Potholes, water shortages and piles of trash – Free State residents take service delivery fight to court