JOHANNEBURG – While provincial and national government have agreed that Day Zero in Cape Town must be avoided at all costs, they seem to disagree on many other things, particularly the city’s desalination projects.
Day Zero is the day that Cape Town taps are expected to run dry.
Water and Sanitation minister Nomvula Mokonyane outlined national government's plans to tackle the water crisis at the Cape Town Press Club.
“Politics shouldn’t mix with water”, she said.
"We must have one message and many voices, hence at no point have I brought the name African National Congress in this space. I will not. At no point have I brought the Democratic Alliance in this space. I will not. Hence I will be advising the leader of the ANC to mobilise civil society and political parties to say you don’t do this in a time of crisis,” she says.
But despite this diplomatic tone, national and provincial government cannot agree on two things right now: money and desalination plants.
The Minister says Umgeni Water was contracted to assist with procurement processes for the City’s desalination plant.
“We have utilities that have been created as vehicles to assist in the implementation of our responsibilities in line with the water act. Part of what we are working on together with Umgeni. There are no foreigners, they are a utility of the South African government and they are working with the City of Cape Town. Once everything is done, everybody will have a better appreciation of what is happening."
Two weeks ago Mayor Patricia declined governments and consulting experts offer of help but Premier Helen Zille countered this notion.
"We now have a crisis and an emergency and we will get through it with team work, experts great ideas and innovation. You also say that we mustn’t commodify water, which is probably why you insisted that Umgeni Water Authority be brought in here to build a desalinator in almost the exact same place where Cape Town was commissioning the private sector supply.”
Minister Mokoyane said that while there are calls for funding from province, this will be allocated based on financial and scientific evidence.