UNPACKED: Who’s blaming who for Cape Town’s water woes

2018-01-31 18:59
Drought in Cape Town. (AP)

Drought in Cape Town. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories


We predict 'huge levels of absenteeism' at schools after #DayZero - Sadtu

2018-01-31 11:08

On Tuesday, the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) briefed the media on their concerns over the current water crisis in Cape Town, and how Day Zero might have a "catastrophic effect" on scholars and their right to education. Watch. WATCH

Cape Town - Finger pointing and blaming over the drought crisis gripping Cape Town has picked up this week, with behind-the-scenes fighting between DA leaders being revealed.

This despite calls for full focus to be on the crisis, instead of apportioning blame.

On Wednesday, Democratic Alliance Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela said embattled Mayor Patricia De Lille had played a role in creating public panic around the water crisis.

He also accused her of delaying budget decisions and withholding information.

De Lille, News24 revealed on Tuesday, pointed the finger at senior project managers tasked with tackling the drought crisis. She said they never managed to get an overall plan off the ground.

The team, which she requested be set up in May - the water resilience task team - was effectively closed down this week.

De Lille has been at the centre of intense infighting within the City of Cape Town’s leadership.

The DA on Wednesday said that its federal executive had authorised a motion of no confidence in De Lille, who earlier this month was removed from directing drought crisis plans.

Premier Helen Zille on Wednesday announced ramped up plans to try and tackle the crisis.

Zille requests urgent resolution from national government

She said she had written to Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane and called for "an urgent resolution to national government’s role in funding bulk water supply interventions in Cape Town".

"The letter follows the minister’s visit to Cape Town on the weekend, during which it was revealed that bulk water supply funding would not be forthcoming from national government, and that the Berg River Voëlvlei scheme to augment Cape Town’s water supply would only come online by 2021," Zille said.

"National government has the mandate for bulk water supply, local government is responsible for reticulation, and provinces have oversight, support, monitoring and disaster management powers."

READ: Money won't curb #DayZero, we must adapt - Mokonyane

She called for a joint task team, from national, provincial and local government, to deal with the drought.

Zille is expected to meet Mokonyane next week.

'Put politics aside'

"I wish to confirm my agreement with you that all three spheres of government should refrain from politicising, or further politicising, the crisis," she said in the letter to Mokonyane.

"No purpose is served by pointing fingers and attributing blame, politically or otherwise. We share a constitutional duty to safeguard our citizens’ fundamental rights, which must inform any action that we take."

However, the drought crisis has resulted in finger pointing.

On Wednesday, Madikizela was scathing when referring to De Lille’s handling of the water crisis.

He said she was removed from directing the City’s responses to the matter.

'De Lille withheld info, interfered with projects'

"She actively withheld information, misdirected officials, delayed budget decisions, interfered with project plans and undermined the rollout of augmentation projects as a result," Madikizela charged.

"Her failure to manage this correctly and to communicate accurate information has played a material role in the current public panic and negatively impeded the City’s response to the current crisis."

He said she had not pushed national government to fulfill its legal responsibilities in terms of helping to prevent the crisis.

This, Madikizela said, posed a risk to Cape Town residents.

De Lille’s version of how the drought crisis has been handled by her colleagues is contained in a submission, dated January 5 this year, addressed to DA federal executive chairperson James Selfe.

READ: Managers focused on furniture needs, not water - De Lille on Cape Town's 'derailed' drought plan

In the submission, she said the water resilience task team had undertaken to ensure that augmented water supplies were available in August last year.

But, by October, this plan was still not on track.

"At some of the very first meetings, it was astounding to hear feedback from project managers who, when asked for updates on the plans to get additional water, instead spent a great deal of time talking about furniture for the 'war room' for the water resilience team," De Lille said in her submission.

"Instead of receiving substantial feedback on the actual delivery of water and commencement of projects, senior project managers spoke about desks and other office furniture needed for the war room and the costs to set it up."

De Lille said she had twice previously applied to national government to declare Cape Town a local disaster area, but her requests had been turned down.

High-level meeting

Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation Mlungisi Johnson said a meeting, including representatives from the national water department, the Western Cape local government department, and the City was expected to be held next Tuesday.

The aim of the meeting was to try and align various responses to the water crisis. 

Read more on:    patricia de lille  |  helen zille  |  town  |  cape  |  water crisis

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.