There is little doubt that the water crisis will get worse much faster if there is selfish behaviour by selfish Capetonians, who use more water than they are permitted to.
We expect the authorities to identify these profligate households, and to deal harshly with them.
However, there are massive civil liberty concerns which stem from the latest proposal from Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille.
Appearing on local radio, Monday, she announced that not only will these excessive users of water be traced; they will be identified for all to see.
“We are going to put a red dot against every household on a map, to show that this is the household using more than the 10 500 liters of water per month,” said the Mayor.
One understands the frustration of our Mayor, who is having to battle water worries in the City, faces a less-than-helpful national government, not to mention her starring role in the gladiatorial conflict within the local DA.
However, one should always be worried when a politician starts to name and shame.
Of course, it is a preposterous comparison, but remember how the Nazis used to name and shame jews by making them wear a yellow star; it was a pink triangle for gays.
Now, Cape Town residents who use too much water must be condemned, be fined, possibly even to face tougher rations.
But do we really want to identify where they live, as is done in some places to child molestors or other undesirables?
Few people who have received municipal bills would be prepared to swear that local bureaucrats are never wrong. Few could express full confidence in the infallibility of officials to identify with 100% accuracy the excessive water users.
What if there is a water leak on your property, which is not easily identified and repaired? It could be bad luck – and not too many long showers – which will win you the red robot.
And then there is corruption…
There are currently fears that the local government is not 100% clean. And if we enter a new era of water wars, who is to say it will be impossible to offer an inducement to get the red dot removed from your property? Or to get a new one added around the corner, to settle a score with a nasty neighbour?
So how about a different plan? It is certainly the case that some of the blame for the looming water disaster can be laid at the feet of our City politicians and officials.
If they agree that another map with red dots could be compiled, identifying where they and their families live, then we will know the red dot plan is not going to lead to serious and unintended consequences. Particularly after Day Zero, when the taps will have run dry.
If not, let us show the red light to this damnable dotty red dot scheme. And focus on less invasive measures to cut water waste.
The Cape Messenger understands that the red dots would appear on a digital map on the city website.