“Water for all or the city must fall,” dozens of protesters chanted outside the Cape Town civic centre on Sunday where concerned ratepayers gathered in protest against the drought crisis and the management of the looming and dreaded Day Zero.
Locals from across the metropole showed up to the gathering arranged by the Water Crisis Coalition, comprising representatives from over 70 organisations.
According to their memorandum, various rights groups have, over a number of years, raised the need for planning for water scarcity.
“The authorities knew about the measures to take. You failed to do so. You need to take responsibility for this neglect. Do not make the people your scapegoat for your negligence,” the document reads.
“Day Zero is avoidable and not inevitable and this should be our focus, not scaremongering the masses.”
Among the suggestions it included was water pressure reduction at strategic times and mass leak repairs, which it said could save 100 million litres of water per day.
Privatisation of water
It also called for the springs to be opened for all and to “prevent the privatisation of water in this time of crisis”.
The document, meant for Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, was to be handed over at the gathering.
Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services and energy arrived instead, much to the chagrin of the masses.
After chants of “no, no, no!”, it was decided that should the mayor not receive their demands, it would not be given to an alternate official.
Under the watchful eye of police officials, the crowds shared their views of the management of the drought crisis, with one passionate participant declaring that should the City not be able to provide services such as water, they should not expect people to pay their rates and taxes.
Yusuf Cassiem from Bonteheuwel said the City of Cape Town’s planning and communication of what would happen once the taps are turned off was abysmal.
“What is the plan? Our people are in the dark. They talk about water points, but where is it going to be? People from where I come from don’t have money to travel to a point, and many don’t have their own transport. The water point system will be an inconvenience to middle-class people, but for the poor, it is going to be a nightmare.”
‘Avert this disaster’
He laid the blame for the current disaster at the doorstep of all spheres of government.
“They were supposed to work together in our interest. It’s all of their fault that we are in this situation.
“People are panicking because [we] don’t understand what is happening.”
Zelda Hintsa from Athlone said water was a basic human right and should be accessible to every citizen.
“All levels of government need to stop politicising what is happening. They need to do what they can to avert this disaster. And fast.”
Deborah Gericke of Bo-Kaap questioned how authorities could have allowed the situation to reach this point.
“I am incredulous,” she said.
“A plan should have been drawn up and communicated ages ago.”
Mayoral committee member for safety, security and social services JP Smith on Sunday said the Day Zero scenario could be as little as a few days, a few weeks, or as long as three months if it does not result in significant savings.[Source: News24]