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?
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.
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."
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.
I'm confused, is this a party effort, municipal, provincial or what? Where's the mayor, she isn't even in your pic. What is Bonginkosi doing here? Isn't Zille suspended from party activities? Too many questions...#DefeatDayZero #DayZero #WaterCrisis https://t.co/lLtEIcLfsQ— Godfrey Albertyn (@galbertyn) January 24, 2018
If the DA wanted National Government to intervene in the #CapeTownwatercrisis why didn't they Invite Nomvula Mokonyane or anyone else from N.G. This seems more like a political campaign, we can't play politics with people's livelihood! #DefeatDayZero— AbortedNews (@AbortedNews) January 24, 2018
A #DefeatDayZero plan should have been actioned 4 years ago already, surely not mere days before the water runs out!? 💦— Ulrich J van Vuuren (@UlrichJvV) January 24, 2018
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.
A little too late. DA will have a tough time next election.— Lindsey is, like, really smart (@naplindsey) January 29, 2018
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."
And who has appointed him. Did the WC legislature or the CT city council take a vote? Where is his authority derived from? As far as I know the the DA FedEx isn't a governing or legislative body. Nor is Maimane a recognised private sector expert on disaster mitigation and relief.— Brendan von Essen (@BrendanvonEssen) January 24, 2018
"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.
I am really perplexed as to why Mmusi Maimane is addressing at this #DefeatDayZero platform. The DA is playing serious politics here where they have dramatically failed.— Tasneem Essop (@TasneemEssop_) January 24, 2018
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.
Ppl are right that Cape Town was warned in 2002 about a pending water shortage. They are WRONG to claim the City did nothing. We fought hard with a reluctant nat Govt, to build the Berg River Dam. It would have sufficed till 2022 had it not been for this unprecedented drought.— Helen Zille (@helenzille) January 23, 2018
It is about time @CityofCT & @WesternCapeGov takes the fight to National Government!— Sihle Ngobese (@SihleDLK) January 24, 2018
It's a SHAME that @NomvulaMokonyan & her boss @SAPresident are DOLOLO! This is not political finger-pointing, it is us citizens DEMANDING the National Government DO THEIR JOB!!!#DefeatDayZero
Mmusi says desalination is very expensive and this city doesn't have money to fund it. Where is national gov? #DefeatDayZero— Justice4All (@Unathi_Kwaza) January 24, 2018
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.
What the Premier and leader of the DA have sought to do is to absolve themselves of their responsibilities in the management of the water crisis through an attempt to mischievously create scapegoats and shift the blame on the seriousness of the water crisis to national government— Water&SanitationRSA (@DWS_RSA) January 24, 2018