Cape Town deputy mayor apologises for his behaviour during News24's Day Zero interview

2018-02-01 18:19
Cape Town's deputy mayor Ian Neilson. (Paul Herman, News24)

Cape Town's deputy mayor Ian Neilson. (Paul Herman, News24)

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Cape Town – City of Cape Town Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson has apologised for his behaviour during an interview last week with News24's multimedia journalist Aletta Harrison.

Neilson, who is in charge of the City's water crisis, said he had been on the job for "just three days" when the interview about Day Zero took place last Thursday, January 25.

The deputy mayor, who recently replaced Mayor Patricia de Lille as head of the City's response to the crisis, was speaking to radio host Kieno Kammies on CapeTalk on Thursday morning.

READ: #WaterCrisis ideas and tips from News24 readers

"I've been in the job for just three days and I was going through a lot of interviews and suddenly, this lady (Harrison) came in and started asking me questions around operational issues on Day Zero that I was not prepared for.

"It was simple as that and it was very unfortunate and I think I need to apologise for the way I behaved there, but you know that unfortunately was the situation," he told Kammies.

'Stop this now'

Neilson added that at the time, he was only ready to answer detailed questions on the state of the system "and what we were doing there, but I wasn't at that point ready to discuss Day Zero issues".

"I'm in a totally different place now a week later," he said.

During the interview with Harrison last Thursday, Neilson seemed stumped and said: "If those are all Day Zero questions, this is the wrong time to ask me."

READ: 2 bust for allegedly trying to smuggle water to Western Cape illegally

In the interview, which was captured on video, Harrison told him that she heard that the water supply would not be cut off to the CBD and asked: "When will the public find out about what areas constitute the CBD?"

Neilson responded by saying: "Stop this now, these are not the questions for me. I've only been in this job for four days, I don't yet have all that much details to answer these kinds of detailed questions," he said.

'Can you turn this off?'

However, Neilson did provide information about the desalination plants construction, but opted to end the interview shortly afterwards.

"This is pretty odd. Can you turn this off?" he said asking the News24 reporter to turn off her video camera.

"I think you should have sent the questions through and we would have sorted this out," he added.

Watch the interview below:

News24 had arranged the interview about Day Zero through the City's communications department and no questions were requested in advance.

On Tuesday, January 30, Neilson said plans to build additional desalination plants in the city were currently at tender stage and could be announced in the next few weeks.

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane had held a press conference that day, along with members of the City's drought crisis team.

Maimane announced to Cape Town residents that their response to the imminent arrival of Day Zero had pushed the date back four days, from April 12 to April 16.

Neilson said plans were afoot to add more plants to the three already commissioned.

"In addition to those three, there are a couple of other ones at tender stage," he added.

"I don't want to compromise the processes on that by making any statement; in fact, I'm not permitted to be part of the decisions on that [as a mayoral committee member].

"But we are hopeful that, in the next few weeks, we will be able to announce some additional desalination plants as well."

Read more on:    mmusi maimane  |  ian neilson  |  cape town  |  drought  |  water crisis

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