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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

South Africa Cape Town to activate disaster
operations center as water crisis worsens 

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The City of Cape Town announced on Sunday that it will be activating the Disaster Operations Center (DOC) next week to prepare for the worst scenario that would result from a deepening water crisis.

The DOC, headed by water expert Richard Bosman, will be responsible for executing the city’s Water Disaster Plan designed for Day Zero when dams supplying water to the city run dry, water taps are switched off and residents have to collect water at designated points, the city said in a notice.

It will be the task of the DOC to manage the water collection points (WCPs), according to the notice.

“A great deal of preparation is being done to ensure that this happens as efficiently as possible,” the notice said.

The city’s Disaster Risk Management Department has been consulting with the international community since early last year on how best to distribute water in a time of crisis.

“We will shut off supply to taps when our dams reach a collective level of 13.5 percent,” the notice said.

Currently dam levels stand at about 26.7 percent.

Day Zero is predicted to arrive on April 12.

The detail around how the WCPs will be managed has captured much of the public’s attention.

Panic has arisen these days as people begin to imagine what their lives will be like if they have to queue for water every day.

The city said it is looking at the local context of each WCP to build flexibility into the way each individual point is managed.

“We are designing the collection points to ensure that they can be managed in the most efficient way possible,” the city said.

The city pledged to trouble-shoot each WCP so that, if Day Zero arrives, people are able to collect water as quickly and safely as possible.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) have confirmed that they will assist the city to secure the WCPs.

The deployment will include inner perimeter security as well as outer perimeter security. There will be static deployment as well as rotational vehicle patrols.

“Every possible contingency is being considered and we will continuously evaluate and fine-tune these measures in the lead up to Day Zero, and in the days that follow,” the city said.

The city urged all Capetonians to join in the effort to bring individual consumption down to 50 litres a day so as to avoid running out of water.

“If we don’t want to queue, we must save water now. If we can keep our daily water use below 50 litres per person, we can avoid Day Zero,” the city said.

As the second-most populous urban area in South Africa after Johannesburg, Cape Town is the capital of the Western Cape Province and the seat of South Africa’s Parliament, with a population of about 6 million.

The number of domestic and international tourists visiting the city reaches more than five million every year.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

South Africa Cape Town considering legal action over water crisis

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The City of Cape Town is considering legal action to compel the national government to come to its rescue as a depeening water crisis is gripping the city, opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) Mmusi Maimane said on Friday.

“This is not a finger pointing exercise. It is about ensuring that the Constitution is given effect to and that the rights of citizens and ratepayers are fought for and protected,” Maimane said at the launch of the “Defeat Day Zero” campaign in Cape Town.

Cape Town, a drought-stricken city administered by the DA, is expected to become the first metropolis in the world to run out of water on April 12, known as Day Zero.

Maimane said Day Zero has become “a very real possibility” as dam levels are currently at 27.2 percent as of now with 17.2 percent usable water left.

The DA is facing mounting criticism for its negligence of duty that has led to the depeening water crisis.

But Maimane said there is a misconception that it’s the sole responsibility of the city to address the water crisis.

“It is the constitutional mandate of the national government to deliver water to all municipalities,” he said.

The city purchases bulk water, in much the same way as it purchases bulk electricity from state-run parastatal Eskom, said Maimane.

He said he has been often asked how a city surrounded by two oceans can run out of water.

The funding for any additional water supply, either from more dams or from desalination plants, falls within the national government, Maimane explained.

The problem is that there simply isn’t money as large-scale facilities cost anything up to 15 billion rand (about 1.3 billion U.S. dollars), which makes up one third of Cape Town’s annual budget, according to Maimane.

“No city can afford such facilities on its own. Especially when their provision is outside its legal mandate,” he said.

What the city does control is the infrastructure that cleans the water and carries it to homes, businesses and schools, Maimane added.

As part of the city’s immediate augmentation plans, three smaller-scale desalination plants are being built and several aquifers are being brought on line, according to Maimane.

Water supply will also be augmented by transfers from private dams and water reuse, Maimane said.

In total, the city plans to bring 120 megalitres of water on line by May 2018 as a result of these augmentation efforts, he said.

Cape Town and the Western Cape Province as a whole need the national government to play its legally mandated role to ensure greater water security, Maimane said.

He vowed to take the fight to the national government to make sure that it fulfills this role.

The city has repeatedly urged President Jacob Zuma to declare the water crisis “a national disaster”. But Zuma has not responded to the call.

On Wednesday, Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane refuted criticism against the national government.

The minister said the DA was trying to absolve itself of its responsibilities in the management of the water crisis through an attempt to mischievously create scapegoats and shift the blame onto the national government.

Mokonyane said her department has successfully intervened and saved several provinces which were devastated by the drought over the last three years and will continue to do so in Cape Town and the Western Cape as well.

As the second-most populous urban area in South Africa after Johannesburg, Cape Town is the capital of the Western Cape Province and the seat of South Africa’s Parliament, with a population of about 6 million.

The number of domestic and international tourists visiting the city reaches more than 5 million every year.

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South African police raid ruling party top official’s office in anti-corruption probe

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s elite police investigations unit, Hawks, on Friday raided the Free State Premier Ace Magashule’s office in search of documents linking him to the Gupta corruption.

Magashule is the secretary general of the ruling party, African National Congress (ANC) elected at the last December conference.

The Free State government confirmed on Friday that the Hawks visited their offices to search and seize documents related to the Vrede farm.

Kopung Ralikontsane, Director General of the Free State, said, “It is in our interest that this matter is brought to its finality to allow the Free State provincial government to continue its work of changing the lives of the people for the better. We wish to assure the public that that we will cooperate with all the law enforcement authorities doing investigations on this matter.”

Ralikontsane said, “We wish to thank the members of the public for their patience on the matter and we wish to commit that we will regularly update them on this matter as well as on all our activities which are implemented in line with our mandate.”

The Free State agricultural department in 2013 paid 18 million U.S. dollars to Estina, the company that ran the Gupta-linked Vrede Dairy farm which is under investigation for corruption.

The country’s South Africa’s Asset Forfeiture Unit believes that out of the 18 million dollars, only 166,666 U.S. dollars was used in the farm.

The Vrede farm had promised to empower 100 emerging black farmers with five cows which they never fulfilled. The Asset Forfeiture Unit said the project was done to swindle the government.

             

 

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