Cape Town – DA councillors should vote against the City of Cape Town's proposed drought levy, the DA Cape metro executive said on Wednesday afternoon.
The levy, which will be tabled by the city's council for consideration at the end of January, was proposed by the city's DA-run administration at a council meeting on December 5.
The DA controls 66% of the city's council seats.
In a statement criticising Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille, DA Cape metro chairperson Grant Twigg said the drought levy proposal would create "an undue burden on ratepayers".
"We (the Cape metro executive) are of the opinion that the city should reprioritise its budget as well as actively and robustly engage the national government on the needs of the city, as water sourcing is their core competency," Twigg said.
"The City of Cape Town is facing unprecedented obstacles currently and requires strong leadership to ensure we overcome them.
"Politically we believe these decisions are in the best interest of residents, who we believe should always be at the centre of our actions."
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), which previously called the charge "illegal", welcomed the city's "apparent about-turn".
R1.7bn budget deficit predicted
"We believe the public should [however] continue to file submissions in terms of the city's public consultation process which closes on 15 January," the organisation said in a statement.
Meanwhile, De Lille maintained that the drought charge was necessary to bridge the city's revenue deficit resulting from residents' water-saving efforts.
She said the city was projected to incur a budget deficit in the region of R1.7bn for the 2017/18 financial year.
"Without this vital income, the city will not be able to undertake the basic operations required to provide water and sanitation services to the people of Cape Town," De Lille said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.
The drought charge will be a temporary additional charge based on existing property valuations, subject to approval by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.
The city did not answer questions from News24 directly relating to the majority party's opposition to the proposal.
The DA's criticism of its own proposed drought levy is the latest sign in ongoing tension in the city's caucus.
On Wednesday afternoon, the party's federal executive chairperson, James Selfe, criticised DA members for "ventilating their thoughts" about De Lille through the media.
DA spokesperson Phumzile Van Damme said the party would not comment on the ongoing tension in the city until the party's federal executive meets on Sunday.