The water crisis in Cape Town is a fantastic opportunity for the ANC in the region to show its mettle as an opposition party and an even better opportunity for Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to ride to the Western Cape's rescue.
Ramaphosa is on a bit of a honeymoon at the moment. He is being credited with everything from the resurgence of the rand to the spark at the Hawks and everything else in-between. He can surely go the whole hog and get national government to help the parched Western Cape.
The internal squabbling in the DA is now reaching farcical proportions. Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille is resolutely sticking to her guns in the face of a mounting onslaught against her continued leadership of the city council. DA leader Mmusi Maimane has publicly and visibly lost confidence in De Lille and has even decided to take over the managing of the water crisis himself -- even though there are no constitutional grounds to do so.
De Lille, meanwhile, is throwing everyone under the bus. News24 reported on Tuesday that she is now blaming city officials tasked with coming up with a solution to the crisis as having spent more time discussing furniture than the actual crisis itself. Netwerk24 reports Maimane withdrew an offer of alternate deployment to De Lille because her behaviour "upset Maimane". De Lille is determined to clear her name in court and to demand an apology from the DA.
Analyst and writer Max du Preez believes the escalating crisis is doing serious damage to the DA's prospects in the 2019 general election: "The DA's chances to break through the 30 percent mark in next year's general election now look like a mirage."
If the ANC were in any way fighting fit (which it isn't) the DA's series of own goals could have provided the most golden of opportunities. It is clear the internal politicking, egos and power lust is the driver in the tricameral conflict between the civic centre (where the mayor has her parlour), Wale Street (where Helen Zille has her seat) and the Marks Building (where Maimane operates from). Zille is vocal and visible in attempting to explain the drought crisis -- and fighting the inevitable political battle with national government -- while De Lille and Maimane are resigned to their power struggle.
The ANC's new leader has now officially been asked to intervene and help the province negotiate the crisis. The DA is obviously spinning it -- justifiably -- that Nomvula Mokonyane, minister of water affairs and sanitation, has been absent in fulfilling her duties. The president-in-waiting now has an opportunity to stamp his authority on government and to use the National Development Plan as a basis for assistance to the Western Cape.
If he succeeds in cajoling and forcing Mokonyane to help the province, it will be the ANC national government coming to the aid of the much-vaunted DA government in the Western Cape and Cape Town. It would cast him as the champion of cooperative governance as the Constitution envisages and would elevate him above party politics. It would also colour the ANC as the party that wants a good life for all, as its rather empty slogan proclaims.
The only saving grace of the bickering De Lille and Maimane is that Ramaphosa has to contend with Ace Magashule and Jessie Duarte while he's trying to shuffle out President Jacob Zuma.
Well, until the taps run dry. Then there'll be hell to pay for the DA.