Panic on the streets of Llandudno may not be such a bad thing
Cape Town may be turning on Patricia de Lille, but where would it be without her?
At some point in the next 12 hours, or maybe the next 24 or 48 or never, depending on how things go, or don’t, Patricia de Lille – who may or may not have been responsible for Cape Town’s drought crisis but who might also have saved the city from Day Zero, or neither – will face a motion of no confidence from her party, or at least her current party, which isn’t the first party she’s supported and probably won’t be the last, and be fired as mayor of Cape Town, or else she won’t, or might be at a later date, depending on the aforementioned options, if any.To add to the general confusion, some people are suggesting that De Lille is being thrown under the bus by the Democratic Alliance. Now, I can’t shed any light on the first paragraph, but I would like to refute the second one right away.
There is absolutely no way Patricia de Lille is being thrown under a bus. That’s partly because there aren’t any buses running at the moment, but mainly because the Democratic Alliance couldn’t throw someone under a bus if that bus were standing still on a special platform that allowed one to insert people under it and they’d paid Tony Leon a retainer to hire bodybuilders specifically trained to throw people under stationary buses standing on said platform.At least, that’s the impression many Capetonians have cobbled together over the last few months. And one can’t really blame them, given the almost total absence of reliable news coming out from the yelping, yapping, snarling, squealing dog kennel at City Hall.
Indeed, citizens’ trust is now so threadbare that some Capetonians are wondering if the city ever faced a water crisis at all and if Day Zero was a hoax.
To be fair, some Capetonians also wonder if small crocheted nets strung on twigs can catch dreams, or when their crystals will finally make contact with the lizard people who will usher in the Age of Aquarius by shooting everyone with a grooviness ray. So there’s that.Some of the more scientifically-minded ones aren’t much better, taking to Facebook to post aerial photos of farm dams that are full and demanding to know why, if a dam containing a million litres of water is full, a dam containing a trillion litres isn’t also full.
But perhaps the reason people are lunging for any scrap of information they can find is because there’s just so little of it in the Western Cape.
Statements by local politicians continue to be as clear as the 50 square kilometres of mud that is the Theewaterskloof Dam. In an interview with the Daily Maverick, deputy mayor Ian Neilson implied that De Lille had yelled fire in a crowded theatre, launching the idea of Day Zero and its ensuing panic without the full backing of the DA. And yet, when I attended Mmusi Maimane’s official cheerleading event for Day Zero, there was Neilson, shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the DA brass, presenting a united front in support of the whole Day Zero push.More confusingly, though, is why anybody is speaking disparagingly about Day Zero panic.
Seriously, what else was going to motivate citizens to stop flushing gigalitres of drinking water down their bogs? PowerPoint presentations? Appeals to their better nature? No, I’m sorry. People only react en masse when awareness becomes agitation, then alarm, and finally tips over into panic. For God’s sake, the ocean is a landfill and the ice caps are starting to become merely theoretical, but the problem with Woolies isn’t the vegetables individually wrapped in plastic that’s going straight into the sinuses of a choking whale. No, the problem with Woolies is Israel.Neilson suggested that he would have opted for earlier, tighter water restrictions. OK. But do you know what Cape Town would have done with earlier, tighter water restrictions? It would have read about them on its phone as it lay in its third bath of the day. It would have done with them exactly what it did with all the water restrictions that were actually put in place: sweet bladdy fokkol.
So what forced the change that will probably see Cape Town scrape through 2018 by half a puddle?
Had it not been for that, I suspect we would have sleepwalked straight into a very deep, very dry, possibly violent hole.Now we have the luxury of blaming politicians and the spectacle of watching them blame each other. But had we run out of water – as we almost certainly would have done without the panic-induced savings we achieved – we would now be blaming the young family in the flat next door, and that old lady upstairs who refuses to decant her bath into her loo, and all the people in informal settlements who got municipal long after it ran out for the suburbs. And once that started happening, thirst would be the least of our problems.
No, nobody knows anything in Cape Town. Well, maybe one thing. Back when we first heard about Day Zero, De Lille told us that a well-run city does not run out of water. With any luck, we’re about to learn that a chaotically-run city also doesn’t run out of water. Just as long as everyone panics in time.