Cape water crisis: Who is to blame? The weather, residents, farmers or government?

2018-01-23 11:07

Cape Town receives an average yearly rainfall of 520 mm. Some years we have less; in some, we have more. This is normal.

Consider this series: +---+++++++++++++--+----+----++++---++---- (starting in 1977 and ending in 2017, a "+" denotes a higher than average rainfall, and a "-" denotes less than average rainfall per year).

You can see Cape Town received 11 years of higher than average rainfall from 1981 to 1992. From 1994 we then received 1 to 4 years of lower rainfall followed by 1 to 4 years of increased rainfall.

In 2018 we will experience our 4th year of lower than average rainfall. These statistics suggest that we might expect an increase in average rainfall for 1 to 4 years from 2019 to 2022. There is nothing wrong with our rainfall patterns. 

The earth goes through long heating and cooling cycles lasting hundreds to thousands of years. The earth also goes through El Niño and La Niña cycles; a natural phenomena lasting just a few years which can affect weather patterns, causing both drought and flooding. In both cases government should take responsibility to secure and develop our resources accordingly.

The Western Cape water crisis was caused by failure of government to adequately improve water infrastructure, capacity and efficiency to cope with the increased demand for it. It's that simple. This was due to the blatant negligence of national government and complicit negligence of local government to hold the national government to account. This was driven by dirty politics from both sides where only the taxpayer is the loser. To blame the weather is such a poor excuse and frankly an insult to every hardworking, tax-paying citizen. The problems were known and swept under the carpet for too long.

We live in a supposed democracy, yet we didn't vote on approving any special water levy. This is what happens when we give too much power to one party, because then there is no one left to hold them to account.

The CoCT now demands without our consent that ratepayers must pick up the tab for a bailout on infrastructure that should have been planned for over 20 years ago. There are no discussions to reduce the bloated CoCT bureaucracy that consumes up to 40% of all the money our province is allocated. These are critical funds that could rather be spent on health and education.

City of Cape Town’s slogan is “This City Works for You”. What a joke! CoCT just wants more, more, and more; to give us less, less, and less. Many people invested their savings in purchasing water harvesting equipment and will now be forced to pay even higher property rates, regardless of their water consumption.

Did you know that the municipality buys our electricity from Eskom for under 60c per kW/h and then sell it back to us at over 300% margin?? The water meters are just another meter scam to tax us to death. Sanral tried to hit the public with e-tolls. We refused to pay, and they just added it to the national fuel levy. The Road Accident Fund is beyond corrupt and broke. Don't worry, the whole of SA will cover that debt every time we fill up. SAA loses billions every year, don't worry, we will all suck it up and pay for it.

The population in the Western Cape is growing very fast in proportion to other provinces, mostly due to incentivised migration. The DA supports giving 75% our taxes to other provinces, while at the same time, attracting as much immigration as possible through free housing and services.

The DA supports the Division of Revenue Act, and at the same time, they support giving more than 95% of all RDP housing in the WC to people that were not even born in the WC. The only way this can continue is if they keep raising WC property taxes. Catalonia wanted to secede from Spain because they were getting back 75% of the taxes they handed over to central government.

Every year the Western Cape hands over R200 billion of our hard earned taxes to the National Treasury and we are given back less than 25%. There is no other place in the world that suffers from such unjust division of revenue policies. Effectively, Western Cape citizens are paying over 400% higher taxes than some other provinces for the same services. Over 50% of South Africa is on some form of social welfare and less than 10% pay income taxes. It is obviously not a sustainable model. Now we see the effects of this in the collapse of critical infrastructure and water services.

The Western Cape is farming more in than ever before. The sector share of the provincial economy is about double that of its share in the South African economy. Thus agriculture plays an important role in the development of the Western Cape economy and will continue to do so in future. But how much water can the Western Cape continue to supply the farming sector to meet the requirements of sustainable growth?

Who decides on farming water allocations? What about new farming allocations? At what point in a drought do we shut off the taps on farms? It doesn't necessarily then mean a drop in national production, as some of the losses in the WC might be offset by increased production in other provinces such as the Free State and Northern Cape (which happens to be the case right now). What is more serious, CoCT citizens having no water at all, or a dip in the Western Cape farming sector? 

To place all the blame on the CoCT residents is disingenuous to say the least.

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