NEWS & ANALYSIS

Water crisis: Helen Zille requests drought national disaster declaration

Premier states that the Western and Eastern Capes are now severely at risk

PREMIER ZILLE CALLS FOR NATIONAL DROUGHT DISASTER DECLARATION

Premier Helen Zille has written to President Jacob Zuma requesting that a National Disaster be declared due to the ongoing drought.

The National Disaster Management Act creates provision for a national disaster when more than one province is affected, or when additional resources are required to mitigate the national ramifications of a disaster.

In the letter, Premier Zille says the drought in the Western Cape has escalated “from a threat to an imminent crisis”. The economic, social and financial impact of the drought is described as severe, especially if Day Zero is reached in the Cape metro. Agricultural losses in the province already run into the hundreds of millions, according to the Premier’s letter.

The Premier also cites severely low dam levels in the Eastern Cape, particularly in the water supply network of Nelson Mandela Bay. The Premier further states that the Western and Eastern Capes are now severely at risk, necessitating “a national state of disaster to enable all levels of government and its agencies to effectively respond to the impact thereof”.

The Western Cape Government has already diverted over R369 million in funding towards disaster interventions – including water supply projects, drought relief for farmers and water security measures at key government service points.

This morning Premier Zille met with National Disaster Management, the South African Defence Force (SANDF), the State Security Agency and other role players in Cape Town. Various representatives of the Provincial Disaster Management team presented the Province’s plans for Day Zero, which have been carefully prepared over the past year. National and provincial government plans require appropriate integration.

Preparations for a likely Day Zero were discussed with role players from all spheres of government.

On Monday afternoon, the Premier met with South African Breweries at their Newlands facility, to discuss the bottling and distribution of 12 million bottles of water to parts of the City should the taps be turned off in residential areas.

This is the first in a series of meetings the Premier is to hold with the private sector, as the Province’s disaster effort seeks to tap into existing distribution networks should it become necessary to supply water to Cape Town residents on an emergency basis.

Day Zero can only be avoided if all Cape Town residents use less than 50 litres of water per person, per day.

Statement issued by Michael Mpofu, Spokesperson for Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, 22 January 2018