Squabbles do not help water crisis

The Western Cape water crisis is a serious problem that needs all hands on deck if we are to avoid the arrival of Day Zero.
The Western Cape water crisis is a serious problem that needs all hands on deck if we are to avoid the arrival of Day Zero.
Image: STOCK

The Western Cape water crisis is a serious problem that needs all hands on deck if we are to avoid the arrival of Day Zero.

It has been frustrating over the past few months to watch various spheres of government playing the blame game instead of joining hands in a bid to prevent the crisis from escalating into a calamity.

Even political parties that should know better have, at times, fallen into the temptation of seeking to score political points against each other using the crisis.

Even more shocking has been the attitude of certain South Africans, mostly outside of the province, who talk as if the crisis only affected the province's white and rich population - as if that on its own is justification for the rest of us not to care.

The truth is that the shortage of water in the province would have dire consequences for all, especially the poor, black and working-class communities.

Therefore, any partisan approach to the crisis on the part of the three spheres of government as well as political parties is not only short-sighted but also reckless.

While we must encourage that all parties work towards finding an urgent solution to this imminent danger, this should not be done in a manner that appears to undermine the authority of constitutional structures.

The separation of powers between state and party is an important foundational principle of our liberal democracy. It is therefore a bit puzzling to us that the DA, a party that fashions itself as the foremost champion of liberal democracy in the country, behaves in a manner that blurs the important line between party and state.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane's regular "water briefing" - during which he gives updates on what the DA-controlled City of Cape Town and the provincial government are doing about the crisis - undermines the principle of the separation of powers. Whereas the DA has every right to guide its deployees in government on how to deal with the crisis, it is still the sole responsibility of those who have been elected or employed to run government to account to the public about what is being done.

Maimane cannot appoint himself the super mayor of the city. He should let those the city's residents elected to lead and take charge.

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