Gigaba's R6bn drought relief too little too late‚ says Zille

22 February 2018 - 17:48
By Aron Hyman
Gigaba's R6bn drought relief too little too late‚ says Zille.
Gigaba's R6bn drought relief too little too late‚ says Zille.

The R6-billion allocated by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba for drought relief and infrastructure is a drop in the ocean‚ Western Cape Premier Helen Zille said on Thursday.

“Although R6-billion is a lot of money‚ divided between five provinces it will hardly touch sides if it is intended both for relief and new infrastructure‚” Zille said in her State of the Province address.

“The City [of Cape Town’s] infrastructure-build programme‚ on its own‚ amounts to almost R6-billion. No local government should have to shoulder the burden of capital and operational costs for what is a national function.

“The city is ramping up augmentation from about 120 million litres per day by July 2018 – mainly from aquifers - to about 300 million litres per day by September 2020‚ including re-use and desalination.”

Zille criticised the Department of Water and Sanitation for delays in the Berg River-Voelvlei augmentation scheme‚ initially intended to be complete in time for 2018’s winter rain.

“This would have meant an additional supply of 230 billion litres of water per year for greater Cape Town’s supply scheme going into next summer. It would have given us far greater water security‚” said Zille.

Even if water minister Nomvula Mokonyane stuck to her commitment of completing the project by winter 2019‚ “it will be too late to help us through our current crisis”.

Turning to the province's broadband rollout to 1‚875 sites‚ Zille challenged mobile operators to match the data rates the province was offering.

“We are in the process of converting as many as possible of the province’s broadband points into free Wi-Fi sites‚” she said.

“This will make approximately 1‚600 free Wi-Fi sites available across the province at speeds of 10 megabytes per second. This rollout will follow the process of upgrading our 1‚875 sites to 100 megs per second and some to one gigabyte over the next two years.”

Reacting to Zille’s speech‚ Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Janine Myburgh said despite the devastating drought and fires‚ the picture that emerged was remarkably positive.

“When we see the number of jobs growing in agriculture and the 11% increase in tourism then it is clear that the Western Cape is the best place in South Africa to do business‚” she said.

“I was pleased to learn that 62% of the land reform projects in the Western Cape have been successful against a failure rate of 90% for the country as a whole. That is enormously encouraging and I hope our new president takes note of this achievement and the partnerships that made it possible.”

Myburgh said the chamber supported Zille’s appeal to make military land in Cape Town available for housing. “Building on land at Ysterplaat‚ Wingfield and Youngsfield aerodromes could bring people closer to town‚ their places of work and public transport while boosting the economy and creating thousands of new jobs.

“These are opportunities to transform the city and make wasted urban land productive‚” Myburgh said.

Other welcome successes were the growth of the green economy. “I was surprised to learn that we already have 47MW of roof-top electricity and this clearly shows that we are moving ahead of the country.”