South Africa: Politics Can Never Be About Water

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Cape Town may have avoided Day Zero, but parts of South Africa have not, particularly several Karoo towns in the Eastern Cape that have run out of water. Boreholes and dams have dried up, taps have run dry and the rain stays away, reducing farms to dust and threatening communities. Maverick Citizen spent the last week in the towns of Graaff-Reinet, Bedford, Makhanda and Adelaide. Many residents wonder why Cape Town's water crisis got national attention while they are getting very little.

It is mid-morning in Bedford and already hot. For months the town has had severe water struggles.

Riaan Pokpas, 39, is sitting on the pavement near the Gift of the Givers truck, handing out bottles of drinking water. He is hiding his two five-litre bottles behind his back.

"We sit like this every day. In droogte en dorstigheid (in drought and thirst)," he said. "There are six children at my house. If I show them the water now it will be finished by tonight."

Riaan Pokpas watches the water being unloaded in Bedford. (Photo: James Fowler)

Also in line is Ellen Rex, 59.

"I always wanted an en-suite bathroom, you know, where the toilet and the shower is...

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