South African parliament debates source of water shortage as crisis eases

World Today

SA water crisisSouth Africa is in the throws of a water crisis and residents have been encouraged to conserve water. Photo: (AFP / Mujahid Safodien)

In Cape Town, South Africa, ‘Day Zero’ – when the city will run out of water – has been pushed back to next year.

Now that the crisis has eased, members of parliament are demanding to know what caused the problem.

CGTN’s Rene Del Carme reports on a heated debate in the national assembly.

The Parliamentary debate kicked off with the opposition party, the National Freedom Party, saying the water crisis in the Democratic Alliance-run City of Cape Town was due to the negligence and recklessness of local authorities.

And the NFP reminded Parliament that, like land in South Africa, the country’s water had also been taken from blacks during Apartheid.

“Let me tell you, especially for our colleagues from the EFF party, you missed a very, very important point, when you repeatedly say that our land was stolen,” said Ahmed Munzoor Shaik Emam, of the National Freedom Party. “Yes, it was stolen, but what you forgot to tell these people is that our water was also stolen, and in this particular house there are political parties right here now, that we’re part and parcel of that corrupt Apartheid government.”

The Deputy Minister of and Sanitation said other parts of South Africa had also been severely affected by the drought, but Cape Town wanted to take the spotlight. She denied that the ANC-run government had not done enough to mitigate the effects of the drought in the Western Cape.

“The total sum of water allocated to the Western Cape totaled 74.8-million liters,” said Deputy Minister Pam Tshwete. “It’s very important that find how much of this was been utilized and on what. We are sick and tired of giving you money and having you do nothing and then hearing you blame the national government. We give you money, we give you teams, we assist you, and then you come here and grandstand. You lie to people, you tell them the government is doing nothing.”

“The country is suffering the worst drought in 400 years,” said Geordin Hill-Lewis of the Democratic Alliance party. “There are currently 26 towns in the Free State Province alone where there is absolutely no water. And according to a leaked briefing, Deputy Minister, taps across the country will run dry within the next five years.”

Speaker after speaker prefaced their remarks with a call to take politics out of the drought crisis debate. But many continued pointing fingers at rival political parties, which they accused of doing too little, too late, to avert the crisis.