Understanding Citizenship and within the Context of Access to Water in South Africa

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 18:15
Oral Presentation
Anthony KAZIBONI, University of Johannesburg, South Africa, South Africa
The issue of lack of access to water in South African townships and rural areas is a critical issue for the government and communities countrywide. Chapter 2 Section 27 (1) (b) of the South African Constitution states that “[e]veryone has the right to access to sufficient water”. However, this right continues to be infringed upon particularly in these poor and indigent communities. Water service delivery has been poor in South Africa. As citizens are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with water service delivery they have gone to the streets to protest. These protests are over the infringement of their right to access water. The right to protest is protected and also guaranteed within the confines of the South African Constitution Section 17 which states that, “Everyone has the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions.” It has been documented that the South Africa Police Services uses “excessive” force when dealing with [water] protesters, and in some instances protesters have lost their lives. Juxtaposing the notion of “universality of citizenship” with the ruthlessness of the state, I interrogate the meaning of citizenship to the populace since. It thus becomes important to probe how in South Africa the effective participation socio-politically requires that individuals and groups possess some minimum conditions related to politically relevant knowledge and skills. In this paper I argue that the lack of access to water, and the state’s response to protest coercively has developed a situation in which "groups like women, ethnic minorities, the poor and the unemployed, commonly regard themselves as “second class citizens” because social disadvantage prevents their full participation in the life of the community" (Heywood 1994:159).