A notable feature of South Africa’s political landscape between 1994 and 2010 was the high rate of
municipal service delivery protests. It is argued in this article that discontent with inferior water and
sanitation services played a significant role in the protests. In an effort to comprehend the complex
circumstances better, attention is focused on the evolution of water governance in South Africa after 1994.
Water was central to the socio-economic transformation of South Africa to a multiracial democracy.
Water was also a prominent theme of public discourse in the country’s politics. The government started
operating as the custodian of the country’s water supplies on behalf of the people. Moreover, the symbolic
value of water has also been turned into a basic human right, according to the country’s Constitution. It is
the right of all the country’s people to have access to clean drinking water and proper sanitation.
Despite the exceptionally progressive legislation the country, by 2004 , faced considerable water
governance problems – primarily at the municipal level. Some of the underlying issues are discussed.
Attention is also given to the manner in which plans were implemented to try and stem the tide of local