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R6bn allocated for drought relief not enough, says Zille

The Western Cape has been declared a provincial disaster zone.

YouTube screengrab of Western Cape Premier Helen Zille delivering her State of the Province Address (Sopa) on 22 February 2018.

CAPE TOWN - Fighting the drought was a key point emphasised by Western Cape Premier Helen Zille in her State of the Province Address on Thursday.

Zille delivered the address in the provincial legislature on Thursday.

The Western Cape has been declared a provincial disaster zone.

While R6 billion has been allocated by national government for relief efforts in drought-affected provinces, Zille says this is not enough.

“The provincial government operating on a very constrained budget has diverted over R369 million from our core functions to supplement disasters funding from 2015 and 2016. The funds have gone to supporting municipalities with water supply projects, and to helping smallholder farmers survive this crippling drought.”

She says bulk water supply is a national mandate, but the national Treasury has literally turned off their funding tap following a “disastrous audit outcome”.

“I note that in yesterday’s budget, R6 billion was set aside for both drought relief and infrastructure for the five provinces hit by the current drought. 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. The City’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 premier says dams servicing the City of Cape Town and surrounding municipalities will reach an average level of 13.5% by mid-winter, based on the current demand on dams.

This would be the lowest storage level ever recorded, and the potential trigger for day zero, the day when the taps are expected to run dry and people will have to queue for water, which is now set for 9 July.

She has warned that they may need to implement level 7 restrictions. Level 6B restrictions are currently in place in the Mother City and residents have had to cut their consumption to 50 litres per person a day.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)