Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s tweet this week – that people in other areas of the country are laughing at Cape Town’s water misfortunes – was as unfortunate as it was misinformed.
It was unfortunate because it may have diverted attention from the very real issues the province, and Cape Town, face.
It was misinformed because, a small number of negative people aside, there is tremendous sympathy across the country for the predicament in which the Western Cape finds itself.
As we watch the unfolding drama, those of us in areas which presently have enough water are far from complacent, because the Day Zero crisis in Cape Town has – or should have – emphasised that water is our most precious commodity.
It is not something we should take for granted. Those of us outside the drought-stricken areas – and parts of the Eastern Cape are in just as bad a situation as is Cape Town – are also slowly starting to recognise that Day Zero’s effects will not be confined to the southern areas of the country.
If Cape Town runs out of water, thousands of jobs could be lost and thousands of “water refugees” could be created. They could suddenly migrate to those parts of the country where there is water and where there are jobs.
That’s a very real possibility.
Also, the economy of the Western Cape is a crucial part of the national economy and any negative impacts there will be felt by all of us – in our wallets.
Emergency drought crisis aid has to be funded from somewhere and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility the government would consider once-off tax levies to raise such money.
We should all make water-saving part of our lives, and the lives of our children … because their future depends on it.