Dear Deputy President Ramaphosa,
We have all watched the renewed commitment of the ANC to rebuilding South Africa with great optimism, both domestically and on the global stage, since your election as its President. Corruption, financial mismanagement of State Owned Enterprises and state capture are key priorities.
However, the Cape Town water crisis is an even greater disaster in the short term that I believe needs your immediate attention. It has the potential to generate more negative headlines about South Africa in all international media than we have ever seen before. It will bring the economy of the Western Cape to its knees, crush tourism, affect economic growth, destroy jobs and become a case study in how to mismanage a world-class city.
As it stands the city will run out of water on the 12th of April 2018. The current emergency plans, which involve 200 water collection points around the city, where people can “fetch-and-carry” 25 litres of water per person per day, and where many businesses will need to close, are logistically and economically unfeasible. A more likely scenario is the closure of small businesses, restaurants and hotels, a mass exodus of people from the Western Cape, increasing unemployment affecting the poor first, rising crime levels, lack of sanitation and, more than likely, numerous deaths.
Cape Town needs intervention from the highest level. We need an emergency plan, be it a last-minute one. There are still options available, but there is no time to waste. We need your guidance and the full resources of National Treasury to ensure that the worst-case scenario does not materialise. This is not a time for political point scoring – it is time for action. The cost of salvaging the situation is much lower than the cost of bailing out SAA or the Post Office.
In fact, it is a fraction of that cost. Money can be raised, in time, from the residents of Cape Town and from investors. However, in the short term, we need strong leadership from the government elected to serve the people. At the very least we need a politically neutral body with representation from all sides to agree short-term, interim and long-term solutions and, most critically, one empowered to act immediately.
I am sure that I speak on behalf of every level-headed Capetonian when I plead with you to intervene in this situation as soon as possible. Without that intervention, the humanitarian crisis that is about to unfold in Cape Town will take a massive toll on our country.
On behalf of all citizens of Cape Town
Sygnia Limited (a Cape Town-based company)