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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

COSATU Media Monitor COSATU Media Monitor COSATU Media Monitor


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  |  Letters

Cosatu Western Cape's Open letter to the President of Republic

Cc: Media Houses

Dear Comrade Zuma

We know that we have asked for you to step down, but whilst you are still President, we bring this urgent matter to your attention since you are the only president we have.

Water crisis will lead to war and deaths in the W Cape, unless urgent steps are taken soon to ensure that water does not run out by the end July 2017. The rich have money and resources to buy bottled water, whilst the poor will be the first to die of thirst, because there is no supply or disaster plan to communities when the taps run dry by the end of July.

The water crisis in the Western Cape and in the City of Cape Town has been clearly confirmed by everyone at the water Summit held on the 16 May 2017. The facts are clear that as things stand water will run out by July 2017. This is because we have been getting less water than we are using every year, for the last 4 years. During that time it was not a crisis of running out of water because of the reserves in the dam from previous years, made up the yearly deficit. However the patterns that were emerging revealed that we would run out at some stage, when the reserves were exhausted.

What did the City do in this looming crisis?

They made some announcements about water restrictions from as early as 4 years ago. Even saying that it was getting worse every year because the available water was declining. But nothing was done to secure more water, in the form of recycling, accessing aquifers, desalination, more affective water harvesting, increased dams, no alternative sources of water for sanitation purposes.

They also claim to have done pilot projects and speeded up procurement, to implement alternative water supply measures. These alternatives however have very little capacity and will not address the crisis, it is clearly just about ticking the boxes and forms part of the great lie.

We would not be surprised if there was an unsolicited bid from some private sector companies to put up desalination and other private sector water supply sources. The crisis has been allowed to unfold and worsen to create the space for unusual measures and profiteering at the cost of the people.

The demand side management has set a target of 600 million litres per day, but presently usage is around 720 million litres per day on average. The demand side management is not working because the government advertising campaign is not credible and legitimate given the lies linked to it. The government refuses to partner with the organisations that could give the message more credibility, because they see them as ANC linked.

Cosatu has in conjunction with Nedlac from National Government forced the implementation of level 4 water restrictions today. The City wanted to implement the level 4 water measures at the end of the month only after the Council meeting, which would have worsened the crisis.

More worrying at the water summit yesterday were different signals sent out by the political leaders of the City and Province. Because Zille and De Lille are not on good terms, De Lille did not attend the water summit, thus missing an important opportunity to raise the extent of the crisis in the eyes of citizens. The Premier put the water reserves at 21,5 whilst MEC Bredel put the water reserve supply at 19% in their respective inputs, who knows what the real figure actually is, that we have left, indications are that it is lower than the 19 %. The various technologies that are available elsewhere in the world have not been explored in any meaning full way by the departments in Government.

The National Government and the Western Cape Government has very different views on the desalination question and the academics raised some other options that the officials have not even explored.

The conference was another gimmick that brought together many role players, at great expense, to play a political game of making it look like it is the national government's fault for failing to give money for the dams. The province and the city must be held primarily accountable for the crisis, with the part of the blame going to national government.

The President needs to get the National Treasury to put water management in the Western Cape under administration, so urgent steps can be jointly implemented. We do not trust the Department of Water and Sanitation because they have also bankrupted the department and left it broke. Lest we all be plunged into a desperate situation very soon that will lead to deaths, as all predictions are that the next wars will be fought around water.

Tony Ehrenreich

Cosatu Western Cape Provincila Secretary-@0827733194