Strike could burst Cape Town's Day Zero bubble

2018-03-08 17:46
Nehawu members. (Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, Die Burger, file)

Nehawu members. (Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, Die Burger, file)

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Cape Town - The happy bubble over Cape Town, after reduced consumption led to Day Zero being pushed back to August, could be burst by a National Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) strike at the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS).

"The strike started today (Thursday, March 8), with workers downing tools," Nehawu spokesperson Khaya Xaba said.

The DWS and the union reached a deadlock over complaints that the department was not using enough local labour for dams and was outsourcing security - among other grievances lodged by the 5300 Nehawu members in the water sector.

Nehawu believes that people who work in the DWS, to keep water systems and dams in good shape, have been neglected, and in some cases, replaced by workers brought in by foreign companies for dam construction through "outsourcing".

This is something the union wants to change, and blames on former Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane.

"She refused to implement some of our decisions," Newhawu's spokesperson said.

Xaba said the new minister Gugile Nkwinti, had not responded to their demands yet. So, if necessary, "the taps will run dry".

Comment from DWS was not immediately available.


The strike comes a day after DA leader Mmusi Maimane claimed that, due to water consumption being slashed, the City of Cape Town might not have to implement its Day Zero plan, which restricts residents to 25 litres per person per day.

Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson said overall consumption as at March 5, was measured at 537Ml (megalitres) per day - up from 516Ml per day the previous week.

The city's average dam levels is at 23.5%.

The latest projection is that, if there is no rainfall during the winter rainy season, Day Zero could arrive on August 27.

However, it is still crucial to reduce consumption to 450Ml per day, to avoid Day Zero altogether.

This is due to a prolonged drought and a DWS-ordered water consumption reduction.

"I would therefore like to urge all Capetonians not to relax their saving efforts," said Neilson.

He explained that, if winter rainfall this year is as low as it was last year, or even lower, Day Zero could take place in early in 2019.

Read more on:    nehawu  |  water  |  protests

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