Can Human Rights Transcend the Commercialization of Water in South Africa? Soweto's Legal Fight for an Equitable Water Policy
The South African Constitution guarantees the right to water, which is reinforced by a national Free Basic Water policy. However, water delivery is a local government function, which, in the absence of a national regulator, is largely operated as a commercial service. Using the lens of the Mazibuko water rights case---^the first South African test case on the right to water---^this article examines the conflict between a progressive rights-based model, which views water as a social good, and the commercialized model, which treats water as a source of revenue instead of a public service. The article finds in the legal iterations of the Mazibuko applicants the potential for a new, more equitable approach to water services. This is despite the set-back occasioned by the ultimate legal defeat in the Constitutional Court in late-2009.
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