The City of Cape Town point blank refuses to let go of their plan to plug the R1.7bn hole in their budget via a Tax on households. This shortfall came about as the City introduced stringent water restrictions on the citizens of Cape Town as a result of the drought and their predicted Day Zero.
Nielsen from the Mayco of the city: “Council is facing a R 1.7 billion deficit in the current financial year as a result of the strict water restrictions and consequent loss of income.”
During the public participation process around the Drought Charge, the City received 61,002 emails from angry Cape Town citizens who opposed the 10% Drought Charge, calculated on the value of property rates bills. 91% of these emails were sent from a citizen’s initiative website, www.dearcapetown.co.za.
By 19 January the city had processed 36 444 (60%) of the emails they received. The city did not even have the courtesy to process all of the emails before they rushed to concoct an alternative means to Tax citizens.
The three major objections identified by the city are;
- Unfair and punitive 34.76%
- Bad Planning 21.89%
- Overtaxed 14.59%
However, these clear objections fell on deaf City official’s ears as the city responded by immediately proposing a tax of 8% be slapped on top of Property Rates accounts as an alternative.
It is, therefore, the same Tax applied to another service as an attempt to plug the R1.7 deficit. This money is not for any water augmentation solution.
The respondents of the public participation process further offered solutions including sourcing funding from Central Government or the City accessing funds from the bonds market. None of the proposals received from respondents proposes a Property Tax as a solution.
It is clear the City is wholly confused as their attempts to plug the hole in their budget is “marketed” to citizens as “money needed to augment our water supply”. In reality, the money is needed to balance their books. To date, the city has awarded R1,5 Billion Rand in tenders for desalination and borehole solutions to augment the water supply. Residents have yet to witness a single completed project and are asking questions over why investigations at Monwabisi and Strandfontein reveal heaps of pipes, but no signs of desalination plant construction.
Water experts including, Anthony Turton seriously question the workability of the borehole solutions, as the laying of pipes from the boreholes to the reticulation system and purifying plants will be over private land as there are servitude issues.
The city appears too stubborn to change its ways and is not listening to the public. Instead, the voice of the people is warped and misconstrued to suit ineffective and decades-old solutions. If the city’s methods were effective, the water security issue would have been addressed in a more holistic manner and DAY ZERO would not be an issue.
Residents call on the City to change their ways and to adjust to the South African economy where salary increases are below inflation and the country’s GDP is under 1%. The city simply cannot continue to slap above-inflation increases onto ratepayers for every service.
The city needs to be reformed immediately by realising they cannot operate in isolation and pass the financial buck via taxing citizens when money is needed.