Blame rains down as Cape Town counts down to zero
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has slammed Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane for her department’s role in the Cape Town water crisis.
Speaking at a DA gathering in Cape Town on the party’s plans to beat Day Zero‚ Zille criticised the department’s failure to provide augmentation schemes to prevent water shortages.
“I was the mayor in the mid-2000s and the national department says they warned us then that we would run out of water. Well‚ if they warned us then and it’s their mandate to supply water‚ why didn’t they do it?” said Zille.
She said she had heard “through the grapevine” that Mokonyane would be in Cape Town this weekend and wanted to coordinate the drought response team.
“It is not her responsibility to oversee a disaster‚ it is minister [Des] van Rooyen ... she is very welcome to come and look at our plans but she is even more welcome to tell us how she plans to provide bulk water‚ which is her responsibility‚” said Zille.
The premier also slammed Mokonyane's department for being out of touch‚ saying the minister sent her a letter in December advising that the department was going to build a desalination plant at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town which would yield two megalitres of water a day.
“For those of us preparing for this crisis‚ we just had to laugh because it shows you how fundamentally out of touch the national department is‚” said Zille.
But Mokonyane hit back at Zille and DA leader Mmusi Maimane‚ the main speaker at the event in Athlone‚ saying they were politicking.
“What the premier and Mmusi Maimane are trying to do is to shield the province and their organisation from accountability on the water crisis by shifting blame on the issue to national government without acknowledgment of the interventions implemented thus far in support of the province by the national government working through the National Disaster Management Centre‚” said Mokonyane.
“As a department we have successfully intervened and saved several provinces who were devastated by the drought over the last three years and will continue to do so in the Western Cape as well.”
Mokonyane said her department’s mandate to supply water knew no politics and she would not be drawn into petty political squabbles while the people and economy of the Western Cape were on the verge of disaster.
“Defeating Day Zero has been and continues to be our main priority‚ and the work that has been done over the last year will continue with increased urgency to ensure we guarantee access to water for citizens‚” said Mokonyane.