Cape Town counters lies damn lies of tripartite tricksters

The ANC and its alliance are desperately trying to stave off losing the Western Cape in the upcoming elections by resorting to lies, smear tactics and false accusations in an attempt to undermine the service delivery record of the DA-led coalition government that runs the City of Cape Town .

Clearly the fact that the current council does a monumentally better job at service delivery and running the city in general is too much to handle for the incompetents in the ANC and its allied movements.

Below is the statement handed to representatives of the tripartite alliance at their march to the Civic Centre by Dan Plato who sits on the mayoral committee (thanks Politicsweb) which outlines the efforts being made by city to deliver services and improve the life of its impoverished citizens. To read about the alliance’s supposed reasons for marching read the SACP’s statement on Politicsweb here.

MEMORANDUM TO THE SACP, ANC AND PARTNERS – CALL TO CEASE UNDERMINING MUNICIPAL SERVICE DELIVERY WITH MISINFORMATION

20 March 2009

Presented to: Blade Nzimande, The South African Communist Party, The African National Congress, South African Communist Party, The Congress of South African Trade Unions, The South African National Civic Organisation, The ANC Women’s League, The ANC Youth League, The Young Communist League

Presented by: Councillor Dan Plato, Mayoral Committee Member in the Mayor’s Office, on behalf of The City of Cape Town

Received at: Civic Centre, Cape Town

Dear Mr Nzimande

The City of Cape Town hereby condemns the attempts by your organisation and its alliance partners to undermine municipal service delivery by deliberately distributing misinformation to the public.

We recognise your Constitutional right to hold protest action and electioneering events.

However, the statements made in today’s protest, the march on Wednesday 18 March led by the SACP’s partners, the ANC Youth League, and the media statement issued by the SACP on 17 March 2009 (see here) have included misinformation that risks negatively impacting on municipal service delivery. Spreading misinformation also undermines democratic participation in service delivery by citizens.

In particular, the City of Cape Town takes issue with the following:

1) The claim in your organisation’s statement that “thousands of people in the City of Cape Town … [are] threatened with the implementation of prepaid water system, which is the direct infringement to [sic] their socio-economic right entrenched in the Bill of Rights”

There is no plan to implement pre-paid water meters in the City of Cape Town (although the SACP’s alliance partners in the ANC have tried to do this in the City of Johannesburg ).

We are implementing Water Management Devices on a voluntary basis in homes across Cape Town. These do not require pre-payment to deliver a free basic 6000 litres of water per month to households, plus a further 4000 litres to households registered on our indigency database. These devices can also be set to deliver more if owners consent to paying a certain amount at the end of each month. We provide a minimum of 44 litres per person per day of free basic water, based on an estimated average household of eight people. National legislation requires a minimum of 25 litres per person per day. Where more people live in a household, we increase the amount of free water accordingly.

The City of Cape Town ‘s Water Management Devices are being introduced for three main reasons.

The first is to save water. Over the past 50 years the population of Cape Town has increased by 400%, from 800 000 to 3.4 million people, and is still growing by 2.5% or 80 000 people per year. And the city’s informal settlements, often on invaded land with no services, have grown from 28 000 shacks in 1994 to 105 000 shacks in 2006. During the decades of rapid growth, water infrastructure provision by the municipality did not keep up with demand. As existing infrastructure ages, underground pipes burst, thousands of litres of water are lost to leaks every day, and a shortage of wastewater treatment capacity holds up new housing developments. Increasing levels of effluent are also entering our rivers and coastlines from ailing wastewater treatment works. In a recent report by the council, it was found that about half of our rivers, vleis and beaches are not fully meeting national guidelines for recreational use. New research also shows that we risk facing serious shortages of water in the Cape within the next 25 years if we continue with past practices. The Water Management Devices are designed to help people to avoid losing water and money through leaks by allowing them to monitor how much they use, and giving them a fixed amount of water per day (which, as mentioned above, varies from a basic amount of 6000 free litres per month, and anything extra that they can afford over and above that). So far we have installed 30 000 of these devices free of charge, after consultation with owners, and fixed leaks free of charge in many of the homes where they have been installed. This has already resulted in a monthly saving of 156 000 000 litres of water worth R519 000.

The second is to save residents from running up debts that they can’t pay, especially through leaks. The Water Management Devices offer them the opportunity to avoid unplanned bills. And those residents on our indigency database who have the Device installed and for six months stick within their daily limit and pay a contribution toward their debts, can have their debts written off after this period, no matter how big they are.

The third is to ensure that the municipality does not accrue huge debts from unpaid service charges. We cannot afford to provide free basic services and improved delivery if we fail to secure the municipality’s finances.

The misinformation being distributed by your organisation and its partners is undermining all three of these critically important objectives.

2) Your claim that residents of Cape Town face daily water cuts”.

Again, this is untrue. In terms of our indigency policy, no services are cut when people register as indigent and make arrangements to pay their debt. And water is never deliberately cut off, even if residents are very deeply in debt to the municipality. Their water is only restricted to 6000 litres per month in terms of the trickle system. If water is cut off in a household, it therefore means there is a problem, and it must be immediately reported to the City so that our 24 hour response team can go out and fix it. We have had complaints about the trickle system, which is why we are replacing it with Water Management Devices, which give households their 6000 litres free (and 10 000 litres free if they are on our indigency database) at the normal pressure they are used to. Restriction of services is actually a requirement of the law. I refer you to Section 97 (g) of the Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000, which obliges all municipalities to restrict services in order to recover debts. This is a law passed by the ANC in the National Assembly. If you disagree with this law, then I advise you to take the matter up with your partners at national level. By pressuring the City to abandon debt management measures, and by encouraging residents to resist debt management, your organisation is actively undermining the functioning of the municipality.

3) Your claim that“the DA-led City of Cape Town … is rallying a range of minority parties and constituencies (similar to an apartheid tricameral system) against the working class and the poor”

The facts clearly contradict this.

For the three years that the DA-led Multi-Party Government has been in office (from March 2006) it has dramatically increased support for poor communities in the form of free basic services, low cost housing provision, and public infrastructure. During its three years in office, the ANC delivered a total of 10 000 housing opportunities. So far, in the same period of time, the DA-led City of Cape Town has doubled this to 20 000. The DA-led City has also increased annual funding for free basic services (water, sanitation and waste removal) by an average of 15%, and introduced, for the first time, a 100% rates rebate for the poorest households. And it has doubled the income at which households qualify for benefits. Under the ANC, those who earned up to R2300 per month or less could apply for assistance. The DA-led City has increased this threshold to R7000 per month.

As a result of this policy, significantly more people now qualify for subsidies. In addition to these measures, the City of Cape Town has also been in the process of systematically upgrading all 222 informal settlements across the metro region, starting with basic services. We are doing this in terms of our detailed Informal Settlement Upgrade Master Plan. Unfortunately, for every R3 we spend of our R125 million annual budget for informal settlement water and sanitation, R2 is spent on repairs and replacements of stolen or vandalised infrastructure.

In the last financial year we installed 422 water stand pipes, but had to make 5482 repairs to sabotaged or stolen pipes and taps. In that year we also installed 2458 toilets, but had to make 4302 repairs to cisterns, pans, pipes and ablution structures damaged by criminals. In the current financial year this situation has continued. Although we have greatly increased the provision of toilets, having installed 2840 halfway through the year (nearly 400 more than the whole of the previous year), we have also had to make 1028 repairs due to theft and vandalism. And so far this year we have installed 186 water standpipes, but we have had to make 1942 repairs.

Finally, we have also increased spending on public infrastructure like sewerage plants, roads, water and electricity reticulation. The poor in particular benefit from this, since the wealthy are able to afford their own generators, boreholes and other basic services. During the ANC’s three year tenure in Cape Town it invested a total of R3 billion in basic infrastructure. During our three years in office, we tripled this to nearly R9 billion, and by the end of this financial year, in June, we expect to have invested over R10 billion.

Existing infrastructure also needs to be maintained – especially considering that many parts of Cape Town ‘s water, sewerage, electricity and road systems are over 30 years old. During the ANC’s three year tenure, the municipality spent around R1.7 billion on maintenance. Since we came to office, we have nearly doubled this, to R3.3 billion, and this is projected to reach nearly R4 billion by July.

In light of these facts, we therefore call upon your organisations to:

1) immediately stop telling residents that the City intends to introduce pre-paid water meters when this is not the case

2) immediately stop making false claims that the City cuts water to private households

3) immediately stop making false claims that the City is discriminating against the poor

4) constructively engage communities by assisting residents who experience water cuts or problems with Water Management Devices by:

a. informing them of our new SMS hotline for water and sanitation problems: 31373. If residents send an SMS of no more than 160 characters with their name, account number or erf number, street address and a brief description of the fault (eg “burst pipe” or “blocked pipe” or leaking meter”) the City can help (SMSes cost 80c each); OR

b. informing them of our Water Services Technical Operations Centre hotline (0860 103 054); OR

c. inform the Ward Councillor

5) Encourage residents who cannot afford to pay for their services to sign up on our indigency database so we can assist them

6) Report vandals or thieves who damage council infrastructure in informal settlements by contacting our Copperheads unit on 0800 222 771

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1 Comment

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One response to “Cape Town counters lies damn lies of tripartite tricksters

  1. JP

    Tell you what, I’ll wager that the ANC will win more seats this time round.

    Helen Zille has alienated so many.

    Methinks the DA will be missing Tony Leon.

    If I’m wrong, I’ll publish one of your posts on my blog.

    If I’m right, you publish one of mine.

    We on ?

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