At last some good news about the Western Cape water crisis: Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille have had a cordial meeting and even discussed their grandchildren.
That was the big surprise to come out of a media briefing in parliament on Thursday‚ where Mokonyane spoke of a “very productive meeting” with Zille despite an exchange of heated public utterances in recent weeks relating to water.
“Firstly we talked about our grandchildren and how good it is after all this hectic work to go back to our grandkids‚” Mokonyane said of the meeting earlier this week‚ facilitated by organised agriculture.
She said the meeting helped to clarify national government’s role in coordinating the drought response. It also identified obstacles delaying emergency water procurement plans.
However‚ Mokonyane was less complimentary about DA leader Mmusi Maimane‚ whom she accused of political opportunism. She said she had urged Zille to keep politicking out of the water crisis response.
“Let’s take out our political leaders from this space. It is also not lawful. There is one national person responsible for water [Mokonyane] and [one] for disaster [Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des van Rooyen]‚” Mokonyane said.
In other good news‚ an additional R82.5-million has been allocated by the Western Cape government for drought augmentation projects.
According to a statement issued by local government MEC Anton Bredell‚ the money will be used for municipalities on the border of Cape Town.
“These municipalities are Saldanha Bay‚ Drakenstein and Swartland. The funds will go to relief measures including new water augmentation and demand management projects to avoid a situation where communities may run out of water‚” he said. While the situation in Cape Town has received international attention‚ smaller municipalities in the Western Cape have also been crippled by the drought.
“The department has been assisting multiple municipalities across the province for a number of years with drought relief and projects‚” said Graham Paulse‚ head of the provincial local government department.
“These included towns like Beaufort West and Ladismith. Following the past peak season over December‚ we can confidently state that the support the department offered succeeded and managed to stave off any community running out of water entirely‚ despite the difficult conditions.”
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