NEWS & ANALYSIS

De Lille should step down due to water crisis – COSATU WCape

Federation says the mayor of the City failed to put in place any substantial measures to address the problem

COSATU calls for Mayor De Lille to step down due to water crisis in the City of Cape Town

3 May 2017 

The water crisis in the City of Cape Town has led to a situation ,where people’s lives are endangered. The sanitary needs of people are threatened with the shortages of water which is leading to illnesses and disease. The water supply is running dangerously low with claims of 20% supply being exaggerated by the city, in spite of the last 10% of water not being drinkable.  This means that there is effectively only 10 % usable water left, with the levels declining rapidly and no promise of sufficient rain soon. The present water supply already is not of the same levels and quality as the past so the twin threat is not mentioned by the City.

This water situation is a crisis, which will have a greater risk to the poor, who cannot afford to buy bottled water. The state of water is already forcing poor workers to spend a greater part of their meagre income on bottled water for babies and the infirm, who run a health risk with the present state of water supplied in the taps. The rich are already using bottled water for drinking, with the Mayor herself having purchased huge amounts of bottled water for her personal use.

The City is not putting in place any substantial measures to address the problem, in the short and medium to long term. Instead the Mayco Member that the Mayor has put in charge of the water supply is now taking advice from JP Smith. The JP Smith way of doing things is by press statement, which does nothing to actually fix the problem, but sets about creating plausible deniability. So the first thing that is being done is to deny the crisis exist, in spite of the empty dams. The second thing that JP is telling them to do is to deny, that it is their responsibility to supply water to the people of Cape Town. The third thing that they do, is make some blanket statement about how it is the peoples responsibility and they must solve it. So actually the only action from the City Council is to set arbitrary targets for water use and then blame the people of Cape Town equally for not meeting the targets.  JP Smith uses this same strategy for the crime situation on the cape Flats, which sees more people dying every day on his watch. JP Smith is the greatest risk to the safety and welfare of Cape Flats communities, with his denial strategy.

It is clear that the rich are the ones that are using the most water as they fill their pools and water their gardens. Paying a bit more for water does not affect them because they are super rich, whilst the workers are super poor. But this is the voters of the DA, so they will not be challenged to change their opulent lifestyles, where water to Claremont plants is more important than water to Cape Flats children. Because of the DA pandering to the wealthy of Cape Town, the poor people run the risk of very soon not having any water coming out of their taps , and seeing their children dying of thirst . We have already seen the DA give the wealthy of Camps Bay My City busses before the people of the cape flats, as they pander to the wealthy. The water cut offs that we are seeing are taking place in the poorer areas of the cape flats, while the wealthy are getting constant high pressure water supply.   

If we allow the City of Cape Town to continue the miss management of the water supply then very soon there will be no drinkable water and the poor communities will have thirst. We need a plan that sees more than just the press statements on the reduction targets we need actual work and alternatives to be developed. It is for this reason that COSATU has filed a section 77 at Nedlac that forces the City Council to negotiate with the poor people in the City. We will bring together experts to develop a plan to solve the water crisis that the Mayor can’t resolve.

This City just works for you if you have money, but poor people will die of thirst, like the poor are dying of gang violence and shootings. The poor communities will develop their own solutions and force the City to act in the interest of the water needs of the poor also. COSATU will coordinate the demand for decent clean water for all that the people of the City want. And we will remove the Mayor and the idiot JP Smith, if they stand in the way of the poor people’s water needs.

Issued by Tony Ehrenreich, COSATU Western Cape Secretary, 3 May 2017