From Makhaza to Rammulotsi: reflections on South Africa's "toilet election" of 2011

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 6
  • Abstract:

    In the run-up to South Africa’s 2011 local election, the event was labelled the “toilet election” in the media. The message that struck a sensitive chord in the national newspapers was that some local authorities were not compliant in terms of water and sanitation service delivery. Service delivery, in itself, had been a crucial issue in municipal politics since the previous local election of 2006. Four years later, as local politicians prepared for the 2011 countrywide municipal election, the townships of Makhaza in Cape Town and the rural Rammulotsi near the Free State town of Viljoenskroon, were in the news. There was a pubic outcry because of the undignified manner in which local residents had to use the outdoor toilets that were not properly enclosed. From time to time news reports on the open toilets provided moments of comic relief in a tense election campaign that saw the two leading political parties of the country, the African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance, wooing the electorate. The outspoken public disdain over highly unsatisfactory sanitation services, underlined the need for politicians and the management of local authorities to pay serious attention to efficient governance at the municipal level in a democratic society. In the article dedicated attention is also given to the way in which the local election influenced water and sanitation service delivery planning in Moqhaka Local Municipality, the local authority that oversees Rammulotsi township