Mayor Dan Plato and Western Cape premier Helen Zille both object to a planned government investigation into water cuts in Cape Town. The Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sicelo Shiceka, set up a task team in October 2009 to investigate alleged water cuts after he visited Mitchells Plain and found several homes of poor residents without water. Shickela’s ministry circulated an SMS calling on people to report “water cut-offs and other poor municipal services in Cape Town”.
Plato said Shiceka’s task team* was “unconstitutional” because it interfered with the autonomy of the city, and he has banned city workers from cooperating with the task team.
Zille, who is also the leader of opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, accused the ANC-led government of abusing state resources “for the purpose of smearing a DA-led government in the run-up to an election”. She said residents had told her that, before Shiceka’s visit, the local ANC committee had instructed residents to turn off the stopcocks on their water meters so that it would look as if the water had been cut off when they turned on the taps inside their houses. Zille’s allegation led to a probe by the provincial ANC, which rejected her claims saying they there unproven.
In September 2009, Shiceka threatened to strip the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape provincial government of their powers if they failed to deliver basic services to poor residents soon. Zille maintains that Cape Town has the most generous free water policy in the country. This was backed up when Empowerdex, an economic empowerment rating agency, rated the City of Cape Town as the top municipality in South Africa for Service Delivery. “Why is a national minister targeting a municipality which is a model of good governance and efficiency in comparison with most ANC-run local authorities? And why now?” Zille asked in her weekly newsletter on the DA website.
* Ministerial Task Team on Water Cut-offs, Electricity, Sanitation and Housing in the City of Cape Town
Source: Anna Majavu, Sowetan, 05 Nov 2009 ; : Andisiwe Makinana, Cape Argus / IOL, 27 Oct 2009 ; Warda Meyer and Andisiwe Makinana, Cape Argus / allAfrica.com, 28 Oct 2009 ; Helen Zille, SA Today / PoliticsWeb, 06 Nov 2009 ; Martin Pollack, City of Cape Town, 23 Oct 2009