‘City didn’t give a dam’

Due to the extreme drought and heavily receding waterline, vines have emerged from underneath the Theewaterskloof Dam. Vineyards were flooded in1975 when the government expropriated properties in the area to expand the dam.

The installation of water management devices (WMD), increased tariffs and the threat of queueing for water are knee-jerk reactions following the City of Cape Town’s mismanagement of the water crisis said ANC Proportional Representative (PR) councillor Ernest Theron.

Mr Theron serves Sub-council 23, which had its first meeting for the year in Lentegeur on Monday January 21. Sub-council 23 is one of two sub-councils in Mitchell’s Plain.

Speaking to the Plainsman after the meeting, Mr Theron said: “There has been no proper thinking of these things.”

He said “no thought was given to the poor in any way”.

Mr Theron said the “water levy”, known to the City as the drought charge, was withdrawn by council last week, after it was tabled and agreed upon by the ruling DA party last year.

He said the DA outside of council had forced the municipality to withdraw the drought charge but that it was now packaged differently in the form of “increased tariffs and the installation of water management devices”.

“Now they want to convene a war room and do not have a clear strategy as to where the water collection points will be,” he said.

Mr Theron said the ANC is completely opposed to the manner in which the City is dealing with the water crisis.

He said the DA is doing what it accused the ANC of doing in Parliament – using their numbers to secure decisions. “It is totally unacceptable. People have not been managing with 87 litres of water, which they now have dropped to 50 litres,” he said.

Meanwhile Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, Mmusi Maimane, is briefing the media at the Joseph Stone Auditorium in Athlone today, Wednesday January 24, on a multi-disciplinary programme of action to deal with the management of averting Day Zero, which has now been moved forward from Saturday April 21 to Thursday April 12.

Mr Maimane has called upon the expertise of a team of experts as well as officials and politicians from the provincial government and the City of Cape Town, who will work together to roll out a comprehensive plan to try and prevent Cape Town’s taps from running dry. At this briefing, he will be joined by a team who will be the designated “champions” to help Cape Town avoid reaching Day Zero.

The DA said Mr Maimane will also use the platform to stress upon residents the urgent need to comply with the water restrictions that have been put in place, emphasising that it is also the responsibility of all residents to play their part in working towards a solution.

Asked whether the ANC has a plan to deal with the water crisis, Mr Theron said the ANC will be hosting meetings to engage with communities, specifically on the water crisis and the maladministration of the City.

Branch meetings have been held and they want to tell residents what “they need to know”.

He encouraged residents to refuse the installation of the WMD and that the ANC will help, where they can.

The Water Crisis Coalition (“Water is a human right’ “, Plainsman, January 17) has also been mobilising civil society about the WMD, which they have dubbed “Weapons of Mass Destruction”.

They have been sharing posts on social media platforms encouraging residents to refuse its installation.

The coalition represents about 60 civic groups that are against the draft Water Amendment By-law.

The WMDs were previously installed to help indigent households have their municipal arrears scrapped and now it is used to prevent residents from exceeding their water quota for the day.

Ashley Fataar, spokesman for the coalition, said the City has spent R1 billion on these “defective devices but could not fix the leaks”.

“Many of the WMDs are defective and was installed without first checking for and repairing leaks. They are not SABS approved and many of these devices are not repaired until seven days later,” he claimed.

Mr Fataar said installation of the devices was about social control by the state.

“It is to privatise water as they can switch your water on or off at will,” he said.

Mr Fataar said residents, who want to hear an alternate voice to the City should attend the coalition’s next meeting at 5.30pm today, Wednesday January 24, at Community House, 41 Salt River Road.

Last week mayor Patricia de Lille said the chance of reaching Day Zero on Thursday April 12 was “now very likely”.

She said 60% of Capetonians were callously using more than 87 litres of water a day. “We can no longer ask people to stop wasting water. We must force them,” she said.

The council has moved to institute Level 6B restrictions with a new limit of 50 litres a person a day as from Thursday February 1. This is to make up for the many months of missing the 500 million litres per day collective consumption target.

Tariffs will be also be increased considerably.

Provision will be made for households larger than four people to ensure that they are not unfairly penalised. Residents are asked to contact the City beforehand by emailing water@capetown.gov.za or enquiring at their nearest walk-in centre.

The Water Crisis Coalition has demanded that Ms De Lille, premier Helen Zille and the Minister if Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, attend a mass protest at the civic centre on Sunday January 28 at 2.30pm.

For more information about this protest, call co-ordinator Ebrahiem Fourie on 079 088 6566, email watercrisiscoalition@gmail.com or visit their Facebook page Cape Town Water Crisis Coalition.