De Lille decries DA confusion on Cape Town drought levy

11 January 2018 - 15:48 By Aphiwe Deklerk
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille with a drill tapping the Cape Flats aquifer in Mitchells Plain.
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille with a drill tapping the Cape Flats aquifer in Mitchells Plain.
Image: Esa Alexander

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille says her party’s decision not to support her administration’s proposed “drought charge” has caused confusion.

Late last year‚ De Lille’s government tabled a proposal in council for a levy on rates bills based on property prices.

The proposal‚ which was supported by the DA caucus‚ is subject to a public participation process until Monday and it will have to be approved by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.

But on Wednesday‚ the DA Cape Metro executive changed its tune. In a statement‚ chairman Grant Twigg said the caucus had been instructed to vote against the levy.

Speaking to TimesLIVE on Thursday during a visit to a Cape Flats aquifer drilling site in Mitchells Plain‚ De Lille said Twigg’s executive had not consulted the DA caucus before taking its decision.

“There is confusion there because the caucus of the DA had already taken a decision to support the drought charge. From the DA caucus it went to council‚ where everybody in the DA caucus voted for that‚” she said.

During a visit to Mitchells Plain, where the City of Cape Town is drilling into the Cape Flats aquifer, the mayor said April 22 is the latest estimate of when taps will be turned off.

“So the confusion really is‚ ‘how can you now go back and vote against your own decision?'

“Obviously the caucus can always go back and review‚ but as you have seen yesterday‚ that is not the official position of the full caucus. Because the full caucus was never consulted.”

The latest developments are a sign of the division within the DA in Cape Town‚ where people aligned to De Lille lost power at a regional congress last year.

De Lille’s future as mayor also hangs in the balance‚ with the DA national leadership due to decide on Sunday whether to keep her in the job.

A council meeting on January 31 is due to decide on the drought charge‚ which is intended to cover a R1.4-billion deficit in the city’s budget.

The levy is meant to be in place for four years and will affect 464‚000 households.

De Lille said the council was receiving lower revenue because Capetonians were using less water due to restrictions.

Asked what her administration would do if the drought charge was rejected‚ De Lille said: “We will have to then cut from other budgets from the city.”