The DA-led Western Cape and the City of Cape Town are considering taking legal action against national government for coming late to the party to assist soon-to-be water starved Capetonians.
Addressing the community of Athlone yesterday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said it was not the fault of the provincial government that more dams had not been built and that bulk water supply was scarce.
It is the constitutional mandate of national government to deliver water to all municipalities, he said.
The city purchases bulk water but it didn’t have the funds or mandate for bulk water provision.
“The Western Cape as a whole needs the national government to play its legally mandated role to ensure greater water security. And I will be taking the fight to national government. “Indeed, both the city and province are currently considering legal action to compel national government to act. This is not a finger pointing exercise, it is about ensuring that the constitution is given effect to and that the rights of citizens and ratepayers are fought for and protected,” Maimane said.
Dams levels are currently sitting at 27.2% with only 17.2% of usable water left.
By the way, water supply is being used and abused, the city will reach Day Zero by April 12 – taps will be switched off to all homes and facilities, excluding hospitals, clinics and for the most part communal water points in the neediest areas.
Desalination plants were expensive and large-scale facilities cost anything up to R15 billion – a third of Cape Town’s annual budget.
Maimane admitted there had been a lot of unhappiness, concern, and confusion as to how the city had handled the situation through its poor communication.
“I understand what risk it poses for business, for communities, the fear and paralysis driven by a lack of information… I am not fully satisfied with the way the city has responded to the drought crisis, its communication, in particular, has fallen short”.
In the event of Day Zero, Maimane said there was a “massive amount of preparation” to at least make 25 litres of water available to each person per day.
The Western Cape cabinet, meanwhile, met with the SA Police Service yesterday to discuss public safety in the probable event that Day Zero hits.
Police, backed by the military, law enforcement and traffic officers would be coordinating all security efforts.
Cabinet also decided to take whatever steps were necessary to recover the money from the national government to cover the cost of the current water crisis interventions.
The World Wildlife Fund SA predicted that if Day Zero becomes a reality, schools may have to close.
“All other mains water supplied by the city will be cut off. Most schools will have to close if they don’t have their own safe supply from boreholes or rainwater tanks. Many businesses will not be able operate,” the organisation said.