Statement by Anton Bredell, Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in the Western Cape
The Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in the Western Cape, Anton Bredell, has noted with dismay the comments made by the Gift of the Givers pertaining to the ongoing water crisis in the province.
“The Western Cape Government has been managing the worst drought in 400 years. This requires the combined efforts of multiple stakeholders and partners. I always believed that honourable institutions bring their concerns to their partners attention and not via media statements. If the Gift of the Givers wanted to have the December and January months off as they indicated in their statement, then we would of course have agreed to that. Our teams – along with multiple partners not only Gift of the Givers - have been working non-stop through the holiday season as demand increased in some parts of the province and we assumed - apparently incorrectly - that a valuable partner like Gift of the Givers would be on board. We apologise for that asumption.”
Bredell states that the Gift of The Givers comments are factually incorrect.
“No single town in the Western Cape has run out of water. Not one. Gift of the Givers has made this inaccurate statement in the past and caused great harm. We have asked them not to state such irresponsible inaccuracies as it causes unnecessary panic and concern. We are saddened that yet again this claim is being made. The fact is that we have been at pains about water challenges at each inconvenience and what happens is that small towns in the Karoo region rely on reservoirs that are filled with water from boreholes. At times – like in the holiday months when these towns are inundated with tourists – these reservoirs empty faster than they get filled. The result is that there are water shortages at some periods. This is managed with water shedding and other initiatives including providing bottled water. To date not a single community in the Western Cape has run out of drinking water despite the worst drought in 400 years.”
Bredell says despite Gift of the Givers’ latest allegations regarding Laingsburg, the town has also not run out of water.
“While concerns are mounting, the fact is that the water being mobilized presently is to ensure there will be no water shortages over the coming weekend when traffic is expected to pick up. This is another pro-active measure taken by the province.”
Bredell says the bulk of the water that the Gift of the Givers has been distributing in the province is in fact water that the Western Cape Government has either received via donations or acquired for times of crisis.
“At times the province has called on the Gift of the Givers and multiple other partners, to assist with transport and distribution. Where partners are unable to assist, we approach other partners. The Western Cape is a large province and the drought still afflicts large parts of the province. The fact that we have been coordinating this massive relief effort with success over the past 3 years further shows the Gift of the Giver’s comments up for what it is.”
Bredell says the Gift of the Givers is always welcome to put in requests for funding as long as there is full transparency and the legislative requirements for dealing with public money is followed.
“In addition it must be noted that the Gift of the Givers are partners and certainly do not help in isolation. They are not contracted in any manner and therefore no payment is due. They are also the only partner to make requests for money to help. Nonetheless I am more than happy to assist the institution in this regard at any time as long as it is within the letter of the law and with full transparency of where funding goes and how it is allocated.”
Bredell has highlighted several initiatives the Department has in place to manage the ongoing drought.
“The Department has contracted and deployed professional geohydrologists for the past 18 months in the Karoo to assist in managing the situation. We also have a fulltime professional engineer in Beaufort West. The department has also coordinated all efforts over the past 18 months with success. This is a drought that has never before happened. Some of the events that are transpiring could not have been foreseen even by the best experts and we must manage each situation as it transpires. We often rely on partnerships to do so in many cases, as is the case with every relief effort globally. We are proud of our record and would point to the Knysna fires, the Southern Cape Fires in 2018 and the recent Wupperthal fire disaster where the department rapidly deployed and coordinated all the relief efforts to assist the community. At the moment we are coordinating the fires in the Overstrand municipality and we will continue to respond to every situation as we have done to date.”
On 2 January Minister Bredell held a high level meeting in Beaufort West along with high level executives from all departments and institutions to look at the ongoing regional water crisis. This work remains a work in progress. In the short to medium term, water, fodder and other needs will continue to be provided to areas where required. This will continue to be a combined team effort and we call on any partner with concerns to approach us directly with any concerns. We also wish to thank each and every organisation and person involved in providing assistance to communities in need. These include national and provincial departments, NGOS and various religious organisations. The contributions are all valued.”
Spokesperson for Minister Bredell