De Lille's drought levy about-turn a victory for the people‚ says ANC

18 January 2018 - 17:12
By Aphiwe Deklerk
Mayor Patricia de Lille says despite urging for months‚ 60% of Capetonians are callously using more than the 87 litres per day.
Image: World Economic Forum / Greg Beadle/Government of SA via Flickr Mayor Patricia de Lille says despite urging for months‚ 60% of Capetonians are callously using more than the 87 litres per day.

The City of Cape Town’s about-turn on its proposed drought charge has been welcomed by the opposition in council.

Mayor Patricia de Lille said the city would in all likelihood scrap the proposal and introduce higher water tariffs and a punitive charge for water guzzlers.

This came after a public outcry‚ including more than 60‚000 messages to the council opposing the charge. Even the DA provincial and regional leadership joined in‚ and De Lille climbed down even though she defended the charge as recently as five days earlier.

ANC leader Xolani Sotashe said he welcomed the change of heart. “It’s because of pressure [put on the city by residents]‚” said Sotashe.

The African Christian Democratic Party’s Grant Haskin also welcomed the scrapping of the levy‚ even though residents will have to pay higher tariffs instead.

“The punitive charge‚ that we will agree with because then it’s consumption based‚” he said.

De Lille said from February 1 the city was introducing new water restrictions‚ level 6b‚ which will limit residents to 50 litres a day — down from 87 litres‚ which most Capetonians have failed to achieve.

The city-wide consumption target will be 450 million litres a day‚ down from 500 million litres.

De Lille told a news conference: “We can no longer ask people to stop wasting water. We must force them.

“We have reached the point of no return. Despite our urging for months‚ 60% of Capetonians are callously using more than the 87 litres per day.

“It is quite unbelievable that a majority people do not seem to care and are sending all of us headlong towards day zero.

“At this point we must assume that they will not change their behaviour and that the chance of reaching day zero on April 21 is now very likely.”

The new plan is for households that use up to 6‚000 litres of water a month‚ currently paying R28.44‚ to pay R145.98 — though De Lille said she would “personally fight” to exempt them from the punitive tariffs.

For those who use up to 10‚500 litres‚ the bill will rise from R109.50 to R390.82.

Then it gets really ugly. Households that use up to 20‚000 litres will see their bill rise from R361.06 to R1‚536.25; up to 35‚000 litres‚ up from R1‚050.04 to R6‚939.57; and up to 50‚000 litres‚ up from R2‚888.81 to R20‚619.57.

Said De Lille: “Provision will be made for households larger than four people to ensure that they are not unfairly penalised.

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“In terms of the drought charge‚ it is likely to be dropped after massive outcry from Capetonians that it was unfair. I understand that response and it has personally been a tough lesson for the city.”

De Lille said the result of dropping the drought charge was that “we are now going to have to make deep cuts to important projects”.

The new 50-litre-a-day limit was “to make up for the many months of missing the 500 million-litre-a-day target”‚ she said.

“The new daily collective consumption target is now 450 million litres per day. This will be in place for 150 days‚ after which the city will reassess.

“Level 6b will also limit irrigation using boreholes and wellpoints.”

On Monday‚ dam levels were at 28.7% and last week Cape Town got through 618 million litres of water a day. The new target is 27% below that.