S. Africa's Cape Town considering legal action over water crisis

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-27 01:49:36|Editor: huaxia
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CAPE TOWN, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- The City of Cape Town is considering legal action to compel the national government to come to its rescue as a depeening water crisis is gripping the city, opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) Mmusi Maimane said on Friday.

"This is not a finger pointing exercise. It is about ensuring that the Constitution is given effect to and that the rights of citizens and ratepayers are fought for and protected," Maimane said at the launch of the "Defeat Day Zero" campaign in Cape Town.

Cape Town, a drought-stricken city administered by the DA, is expected to become the first metropolis in the world to run out of water on April 12, known as Day Zero.

Maimane said Day Zero has become "a very real possibility" as dam levels are currently at 27.2 percent as of now with 17.2 percent usable water left.

The DA is facing mounting criticism for its negligence of duty that has led to the depeening water crisis.

But Maimane said there is a misconception that it's the sole responsibility of the city to address the water crisis.

"It is the constitutional mandate of the national government to deliver water to all municipalities," he said.

The city purchases bulk water, in much the same way as it purchases bulk electricity from state-run parastatal Eskom, said Maimane.

He said he has been often asked how a city surrounded by two oceans can run out of water.

The funding for any additional water supply, either from more dams or from desalination plants, falls within the national government, Maimane explained.

The problem is that there simply isn't money as large-scale facilities cost anything up to 15 billion rand (about 1.3 billion U.S. dollars), which makes up one third of Cape Town's annual budget, according to Maimane.

"No city can afford such facilities on its own. Especially when their provision is outside its legal mandate," he said.

What the city does control is the infrastructure that cleans the water and carries it to homes, businesses and schools, Maimane added.

As part of the city's immediate augmentation plans, three smaller-scale desalination plants are being built and several aquifers are being brought on line, according to Maimane.

Water supply will also be augmented by transfers from private dams and water reuse, Maimane said.

In total, the city plans to bring 120 megalitres of water on line by May 2018 as a result of these augmentation efforts, he said.

Cape Town and the Western Cape Province as a whole need the national government to play its legally mandated role to ensure greater water security, Maimane said.

He vowed to take the fight to the national government to make sure that it fulfills this role.

The city has repeatedly urged President Jacob Zuma to declare the water crisis "a national disaster". But Zuma has not responded to the call.

On Wednesday, Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane refuted criticism against the national government.

The minister said the DA was trying to absolve itself of its responsibilities in the management of the water crisis through an attempt to mischievously create scapegoats and shift the blame onto the national government.

Mokonyane said her department has successfully intervened and saved several provinces which were devastated by the drought over the last three years and will continue to do so in Cape Town and the Western Cape as well.

As the second-most populous urban area in South Africa after Johannesburg, Cape Town is the capital of the Western Cape Province and the seat of South Africa's Parliament, with a population of about 6 million.

The number of domestic and international tourists visiting the city reaches more than 5 million every year. Enditem