Farmers have ‘lost all faith’ in municipalities

water resources

The shocking state of basic services like clean water and roads has made countless headlines recently. The residents of Mahikeng are for instance, for the first time in decades, able to drink water directly from their main water source, the Setumo Dam. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Municipalities across the country are collapsing due to maladministration, power struggles and corruption. In many of Mzansi’s provinces, road infrastructure, water quality and service delivery in general are deteriorating, and although farmers are somewhat shielded from urban management problems, they are not entirely spared.

With less than a month left until citizens will vote in municipal elections on 1 November, some farmers say that they have lost all faith in local authorities, while others have once again urged their municipalities to be more supportive and to stop making empty promises.

“I have no expectations of the municipality. I just expect people to do what is good,” says Morgan Brand, a microbiologist and farmer from KwaZulu-Natal. “I don’t put any faith in the municipality. If you need something to get done, you have to do it yourself or find people who will do it because it won’t be [done by] the municipality.”

Morgan Brand is a soil scientist and farmer from KwaZulu-Natal. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Brand says his local municipality, located in the Ugu district, is incompetent on all levels and its incompetence affects both town and farming people.

“We have water issues across the board here – that’s for residential [use] and for farming. Water in this area is constantly on and off. The water quality control also is not there.” He adds that the effects of water quality extend to the local estuary, beaches that need to be closed and the negative effects on tourism. “That’s because of the municipality. It is their inability to manage,” he says.

Brand tells Food For Mzansi that he is so disappointed by the local authorities’ service delivery that he has learnt not to be dependent on them. “I try to work as independently as I can. You know, when the unrest issue happened, there was a little bit of issues with transport, but that sorted itself out and I was back to business again. I try not to rely on the government for anything,” he says.

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Low expectations a recurring theme

Nkosinathi Makamela is a young mixed farmer from Dutywa in the Eastern Cape. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Nkosinathi Makamela, a small-scale farmer from Dutywa in the Eastern Cape, shares the same sentiments as Brand.

Makamela says the Mbashe local municipality has never supported him with anything on his farming journey, despite his having asked for assistance on many occasions.

“I have visited the municipality countless times to ask for assistance, but they never assisted me. I asked them to help me with feed for my pigs and the structure of my pig farm and they told me that they would visit my farm, but they never did.”

His expectation of the municipality is to give him assistance with land, feed and the structure of his farm. He adds that the municipality also recently released application forms for corn seedlings, which he applied for, and he is still hoping that they will approve his application.

ALSO READ: FS farmers pay R6m. to fix government roads

Limpopo farmer Thabang Hosea farms with Boer goats. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Thabang Hosea, a poultry farmer from Musina in Limpopo, also says the municipality in Musina have failed to support him in the past.

“Right now, the municipality is not involved because I don’t get any assistance from them. I once asked them to deliver water for me, but they didn’t deliver the water and I never asked assistance from them again.

Hosea said his request for a water delivery once a week, was because he had no access to water. He was forced to take the weekly task of filling water cans with 2 500 litres of water upon himself. 

He still hopes for the municipality to avail land for a permanent farm as leased land stunts his farming growth. “As a farmer I need permanent land from them because the land that they give us is on a temporary lease. I also want their support because if the municipality won’t support us, who else will support us so that we can grow?”

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