Cape Town’s drought crisis team closed down - City
30 January 2018
Cape Town - A drought crisis task team created last year on the instructions of embattled Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille has been closed down.
This emerged on Tuesday as the City of Cape Town faces the possibility of Day Zero in April - the day when taps will be switched off due to further dwindling dam levels.
In May 2017, De Lille tasked Craig Kesson - the executive director in her office who was appointed the water matter’s chief resilience officer - with putting together a team of experts and project managers to work with the City's water and sanitation department to develop a new drought crisis plan.
However, in a submission, dated January 5 this year and to the DA's federal executive chairperson James Selfe, De Lille outlined several problems she had encountered with this team.
Asked on Tuesday whether the water resilience task team had been shut down, the City's director of communications Priya Reddy said: "Yes, the water resilience task team has been concluded."
A City council document, seen by News24 and signed by De Lille on January 25, says this task team met for the last time on October 17 last year. It was the team's twelfth meeting.
"After that time, it was replaced by a structure known as the 'daily water meeting' chaired by the mayor…
"During the course of those meetings, the plan, as had been previously presented under the 'new normal'... was changed in favour of a different approach," the document said.
It said Kesson had officially notified De Lille and the City manager of his concerns during November and December.Kesson, the document said, when returning to work in January, found that there was no formal rescinding of the May 2017 council decision to set up the task team, but there had still been operational expectations from the task team.
'Task team formally concluded'
The document recommended that: "The work of the water task team established in May be formally concluded and the work and efforts of those involved recognised and acknowledged".
It also recommended that the "internal governance mechanisms" of the water task team be dissolved.
The City's water and sanitation department, the document said, was to take control of the water situation.
Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson and mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and sanitation, Xanthea Limberg, were to be spokespersons on the City's drought efforts.
These recommendations were to come into immediate effect.
Minutes from a January 19 special council meeting, available on the City's website, detailed amendments made with regards to setting up the water resilience task team.
It said Kesson was to be replaced by the executive director of informal settlements, water and waste services and that the team would then report directly to Neilson and Limberg.
The minutes also said that Kesson was to provide a "close out report" on the matter.
These amendments, according to further meeting minutes, were put to a vote and voted in favour of. These were therefore carried.