Minister's SMS Call to Target Cape Town Delivery

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South Africa’s Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs is circulating an SMS calling on people to report "water cut-offs and other poor municipal services in Cape Town".

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka is expected to give evidence to Parliament on Monday to prove claims that the City of Cape Town was cutting water supply to certain areas.

Premier Helen Zille said on Tuesday morning that: "By sending out an SMS in this way, the ANC is continuing its campaign against Cape Town. Cape Town has the most generous free water policy in the country."

In September, Shiceka threatened to strip the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape provincial government of their powers if they failed to deliver basic services to poor residents soon.

This came after residents of Mitchells Plain complained that their water had been cut off without warning. They said attempts to seek help from the city or the provincial government had failed. Zille said at the time that the residents' water had never been cut off without warning.

In an open letter to Shiceka she said the local ANC committee had been behind a strategy to falsely claim water cut-offs in Freedom Park, Mitchells Plain, in a bid to make the DA-led city look bad.

She said residents had told her that, before Shiceka's visit, the local ANC committee had instructed residents to turn off the stopcocks on their water meters so that it would look as if the water had been cut off when they turned on the taps inside their houses.

Zille's allegation led to a probe by the provincial ANC, which rejected her claims saying they there unproven.

Shiceka's parliamentary spokesperson, Jazze Mokoena, said on Monday that Shiceka would respond on Tuesday in Parliament to a National Council of Provinces question on the water-cut offs in the city.

Mokoena said Shiceka had formed a ministerial task team about two weeks ago to investigate claims that the city was cutting the supply of water to some areas.

He said the task team was formed after the city "disputed the fact that there were water cuts in areas like Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha and Lwandle".

He refused to reveal the number of complaints that had been received and their origin, saying that this would be done by the minister in Parliament on Monday. Mokoena said the SMS calling on people to report water cut-offs and other service delivery problems had come from the task team.

Zille said on Tuesday that Shiceka was still trying to cover up the fact that the ANC had lied about water cut-offs in Mitchells Plain.

"We also have meters that prevent the wastage of water and make sure that people don't have to pay for water that leaks. Why are the minister and the ANC picking on Cape Town, which was recently assessed to be the best metro council in the country?

"The bottom line is that the ANC hates Cape Town. The minister must be impartial and treat everyone fairly, not pick on Cape Town in this unfair, dishonest and prejudicial way." The city was not available for comment.

Cape Argus