Zille tries to blame it on the weatherman

26 January 2018 - 15:34 By Petru Saal
File photo of Helen Zille.
File photo of Helen Zille.
Image: Trevor Samson/© Business Day

The South African Weather Service (SAWS) has issued a stinging rebuke to Western Cape Premier Helen Zille for suggesting the province faced a water crisis because their predictions were wrong.

Zille told the current affairs show BBC Newsnight on Thursday that the weather service models no longer worked.

“The drought could never have been foreseen. The South African Weather Services have said to me their models don’t work anymore‚ in an era of climate change‚” she said.

“The premier’s statement is disingenuous and extremely opportunistic coming as it does in the midst of a water crisis‚” said a statement by the weather service on Friday.

The service said it had noted reports attributed to Zille saying that the province “finds itself facing a crisis because SA Weather Services got their predictions all wrong”.

“We view this in a very dim light as the premier only had one briefing from [the weather service] and already draws conclusions on our work. This is regrettable as SAWS would not comment on policy makers and the lack of action on advice that we have given‚” it said.

The weather service said that it had held discussions with Zille and offered her access to weather information and resources to enable her to speak from a position of knowledge rather than speculation. “Now it seems this offer was not taken up.”

“The premier must appreciate that she is not a meteorologist nor a scientist‚ therefore we would be interested to know who her sources on climate change and the role of weather services are‚” said the statement.

And‚ in an apparent challenge‚ it added: “We trust that the premier will avail herself and her team of advice and access to credible information provided by this competent service and will stop making unwarranted comments about the scientific work of the South African Weather Service and frankly all scientific communities‚ including engineers providing information to her and other policy makers.

“Blaming the weather‚ or climate and the weather service is a cop-out for policy inaction and ineptitude in implementation of multidisciplinary research and reports that have long pointed to the water challenge in the country‚ the Western Cape and in Cape Town.”

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26 January 2018 MEDIA RELEASE: Seasonal Forecasts under the current drought conditions in the Western...

Posted by South African Weather Service on Friday, January 26, 2018

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