South Africa: Drought Levy Likely to Be Dropped After Massive Outcry - De Lille

Theewaterskloof Dam in drought-stricken Western Cape (file photo).

The controversial drought levy, or drought charge, proposed by the City of Cape Town will most likely be rejected at a council meeting on Friday, Mayor Patricia de Lille said on Thursday.

This, as detailed plans for the "eventuality" of the City's Day Zero contingency plans will be released next week.

Under the proposed drought levy, some 52 510 Capetonians were set to temporarily pay a fixed rate of R150 a month to make up for the City's R1.6bn loss in revenue from reduced water consumption.

At a press briefing at the Cape Town Civic Centre, De Lille said the drought charge had been "a tough lesson" for the City.

"It is likely to be dropped after [a] massive outcry from Capetonians that it was unfair," De Lille said.

"We are now going to have to make deep cuts to important projects."

At the briefing, De Lille said the City would be moving to level 6B water restrictions from February 1, with a new target of 50 litres of water per person per day.

The City's previous target was 87 litres per person per day, which it said only 39% of residents currently adhere to.

"The new daily collective consumption target is now 450 million litres per day," De Lille said.

"This will be in place for 150 days, after which the City will reassess."

'Fundamental behaviour change'

The City's previous target was 500 million litres per day, which the City has consistently been unable to reach since its introduction in July 2017.

De Lille said, if Capetonians failed to save water, the city would most likely reach Day Zero in April.

Day Zero is when the city's taps run dry.

"Cape Town, this is the moment where we can bring about fundamental behaviour change that is needed to save us all from running out of water," De Lille said.

She said that water supply to the Cape Town CBD and informal settlements would not be cut off on Day Zero.

Detailed Day Zero contingency plans would be released to the public next week.

"The City will be demarking everyone's local collection points from next week so that communities can begin preparing for that eventuality."

Her mayoral committee member for water, informal settlements and waste services, Xanthea Limberg, said the City's council would, on Friday, vote to accept the City's proposals for Level 7 water restrictions which would come into effect on Day Zero.

Residents would continue to pay for water under the Level 7 water restrictions, Limberg said.

Punitive tariff

At the council meeting, a punitive tariff would be considered for residents using more than 6 000 litres of water per day. They would possibly pay a punitive tariff six times that of the current level.

The size of a household would be taken into account when calculating the punitive tax, De Lille said.

If residents used more than 50 000 litres, the punitive tariff would be increased sevenfold - from the current R2 888.81 to R20 619.57.

De Lille, who is at the centre of a series of corruption allegations, avoided a question on whether she would voluntarily hand over management of the City's drought crisis to Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson and Limberg, as requested by the Democratic Alliance's federal executive on Sunday.

De Lille told News24 on Monday that she would be "carrying on with all my work as usual".

On Sunday, the DA's executive also asked its Federal Legal Commission to conclude investigations into De Lille by March.

The commission is set to investigate, among other things, her role in bringing the party into disrepute and acting in a manner that was detrimental to internal co-operation in the party.

Source: News24

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