Gauteng: millions live without electricity and water

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By Zukile Majova
Political Editor

Over 2,5 million people in Gauteng, South Africa’s economic hub, live without electricity.

Millions of people live in over 700 shanty towns around Johannesburg, Pretoria and other economic hubs, while thousands have no water and ablution facilities.

In the Johannesburg CBD, thousands of desperately poor live in over 200 hijacked buildings without safe fire escapes, electricity or security.

Outside Pretoria, hundreds of thousands of residents in townships like Hammanskraal have no piped water and are battling to recover from a recent outbreak of cholera.

Gauteng residents experience the highest incidence of contact crimes, including murder, rape, robbery, sexual assault and attempted murder.

These are some of the challenges faced by Gauteng residents as Premier Panyaza Lesufi delivers his second State of the Province Address (Sopa) on Monday night.

“You and I can complain about load shedding but the reality is that there are 2,5 million people living in Gauteng that don’t know electricity. Either the transformers are not working or the system has collapsed. If you go to Everton, the electricity network has collapsed completely and has not worked for almost two years now,” said Lesufi.

One of the biggest problems in the province is urban migration, which has resulted in millions of people leaving the rural areas to look for jobs in Gauteng.

In his previous Sopa, Lesufi made seemingly impossible promises including rolling out panic buttons to every household and resident in the province. He promised to be brutally honest about the problems of the province and introduce practical solutions.

“If I had a choice, I would not deliver this State of the Province Address, as our people have lost confidence in what we say. They think we talk too much and do too little.”

While some successes have been recorded during Lesufi’s 16 months in office, many new problems have emerged.

Many streets in the Johannesburg CBD, for instance, remain blocked because of a methane gas explosion in 2023 which collapsed Bree Street and is yet to be fixed.

The Joburg CBD has also experienced a number of fires in hijacked buildings, the most serious being the one that killed 78 people at Usindiso Women’s Shelter in Marshalltown last year.

Despite the building belonging to the state, no one has been held accountable for the fire or asked to explain why over 600 people were allowed to live in an abandoned building.

Lesufi is under pressure to convince Gauteng residents once again to vote for the ANC in the coming national and provincial elections. One wonders what new promises he will make at the Sopa on Monday night.


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