There is a growing realisation that Cape Town may run out of water early in 2018. Tourists will stop coming, businesses will face turmoil – how do you run a coffee shop or a restaurant with no water? Cape Town has a thriving convention scene. That will dry up faster than the dams.
Instead of getting water from the tap, we may more and more frequently have to collect it from a truck. We are now even being told to use single-ply loo roll. So who do we blame?
It is easy to attack the politicians, national, provincial and municipal. Or all at once. They have acted on the assumption that there would be rain. Enough of it. And they were wrong. Very wrong.
They were in charge of planning and they messed it up. badly.
Rationing is being implemented, urgent tenders are going out for desalination plants, a crisis centre is being set up so politicians can try to solve the massive looming problem, which, arguably, they created.
The constitution says we should all have access to enough clean water and proper sanitation. Those who were elected to respect the constitution – and ensure we live within the warm and caring embrace of a rainbow nation – have failed us.
Chatting to a few lawyers, they suggest that there is no merit for something which was recently suggested by one of our readers – a class action against one or other group of politicians for negligence.
Normally lawyers would be happy for some lucrative work, but even they think this would be a waste of time.
And so who else is there to sue? God? Where and how to find him is beyond the scope of this article.
So it looks as if the main legitimate forum to vent the anger of citizens will be through the ballot box.
Of course, we can’t predict how bad things will become, and how angry ordinary citizens will be about taps which run dry and toilets which don’t flush. And that is in the comfy world of the middle classes.
Imagine being in the oppressive February heat in the Cape in a shanty town where there is no steady supply of water?
Peaceful protest seems inevitable, but the problem in South Africa is that too many protests end up not being peaceful.
And, let’s face it, a march on a hot day won’t be much fun if there are no people at the side of the road handing out bottles of water.
We are heading for interesting times. Not in the Cape sense. In the Chinese sense.
Martin Humphries is CEO of the Cape Messenger