POLITICS
31/01/2018 10:46 SAST | Updated 31/01/2018 10:46 SAST

Who Is Actually In Charge Of Defeating Day Zero?💧

Is it the mayor, the deputy mayor, the provincial premier, or the leader of the DA? Who exactly is spearheading this campaign?

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DA leader Mmusi Maimane.

Western Cape premier, Helen Zille, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane, Cape Town mayor, Patricia de Lille, or her deputy mayor, Ian Neilson – who is actually in charge of defeating Day Zero?

Read: Day Zero Pushed Back By Four Days

In the past few weeks, all four have released statements and been referenced in statements on the crisis, but what nobody has told Capetonians facing a water shutoff on April 16, is who exactly is spearheading this campaign.

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Political effort?

Is defeating Day Zero a party effort? As of last week, Maimane took "political control" – whatever that is – of "our respective governments' responses to the situation" and assembled a #DefeatDayZero team to fight the water crisis.

"All DA governments are accountable to me," he said. "I am not fully satisfied with the way the city has responded to the drought crisis – its communication, in particular, has fallen short."

Read: Maimane: DA Taking Fight To Government To #DefeatDayZero

The #DefeatDayZero team assembled is a bit puzzling. Many want to know why De Lille – the mayor of Cape Town – is not required on the team, while Zille – who is suspended from party activities – apparently is.

As a result, many are questioning the politics behind #DefeatDayZero – and whether Maimane is being set in place to become the new mayor of Cape Town, bearing in mind the 2019 election on the horizon.

Municipal effort?

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It seems the city of Cape Town has relinquished its powers and responsibilities relating to the water crisis to the DA, after Maimane announced that Day Zero had been pushed back by four days – to April 16.

According to Priya Reddy, the spokesperson for the city of Cape Town, talking to Ground Up, "From a city of Cape Town political leadership point of view, and as per the council resolution that was taken on Friday, January 19, the executive deputy mayor, Ian Neilson, has been delegated by [the] city council to take the political lead for water."

"From a city administration point of view, Gisela Kaiser, the executive director of water and sanitation, [and] Peter Flower, the director of water and sanitation, are the administrative principals."

It appears, however, that the city is taking a back seat, to leave Maimane as architect of everything.

Provincial or national effort?

Last week, Western Cape premier Helen Zille publicly blamed national water and sanitation minister Nomvula Mokonyane and her department (DWS) for not finding solutions to the water crisis in that province.

In a series of tweets, Zille said the city of Cape Town was not at fault, and blamed the national government, which she said was "reluctant" to build the Berg River Dam.

Although the dam was eventually built and the DA expected it to secure all the city's water needs until 2022, even Zille admitted that the current drought was unplanned-for.

The DWS hit back, slamming Zille for what it called "petty politics", without responding to her charge that the department has not lived up to its obligation to ensure bulk water supply.

DWS spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said in an interview: "It is not about blame-shifting – as the department, we are not going to get into the politics. As a department, we have successfully intervened and saved several provinces who were devastated by the drought over the [past] three years, and will continue to do so in Western Cape as well."

While the statement seems to promise action from the DWS, Ratau did not elaborate on any specific plans that national government has in place to help the DA-run province.