A lot of what is being presented as radical economic transformation initiatives in South Africa is simply state capture by a corrupt elite.
The water sector provides a lens through which this issue can be viewed in a very practical way. The consequences will be dire if the situation is not addressed.
The minister of water affairs and sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane, stands at the centre of the unfolding tragedy. Billions of rands are at stake in a story that threatens the lives and livelihoods of all water users.
So, are the controversial activities of some political leaders ensuring that water comes out of the taps in rural villages? Have their decisions contributed to the security of the water supplies that are needed to keep industries working and the economy of the country growing? Is the country making the right investments in its water future? Is there value for money? Is the right infrastructure being built, in the right place, and is it built properly?
At the most basic level, the number of people whose taps no longer provide a reliable water supply grew by almost 2 million between 2011 to 2015. This is a problem particularly in rural areas, but it is spreading to urban areas as well.
In Mangaung, one of South Africa’s eight metropoles, 70% of people questioned, reported water cuts that lasted more than two days in 2015. In most cases, it has been shown that the problem is bad management not a shortage of water.
At the other end of the scale, the picture is no better. Expansion of the biggest and most important water supply scheme in the country, the Vaal River System, is more than five years late.