Cape Town – first major metropolitan city to run out of water!

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THE water crisis in Cape Town, South Africa’s second largest city, has become explosive as experts now estimate that ‘Day Zero’, the day when all water to the city dries up, will happen around April 12.

This will make Cape Town the first major city in an advanced capitalist country to run out of water, a prospect that is inflaming South African workers and poor who, since the overthrow of apartheid in 1991, have seen the black bourgeoisie accumulating massive wealth while they are forced to live in squalor and are now facing the deadly prospect of death and disease through having all water cut off.

On Day Zero all residential water supplies will be turned off and four million people forced to collect water at designated points daily. While the South African government and the municipal leaders in Cape Town are quick to blame a two-year-long drought and the 50% increase in Cape Town’s population since the mid-1990s for the crisis, the fact remains that they have done absolutely nothing to deal with its consequences despite numerous warnings.

These warnings to the ANC government were made last year by the COSATU trade union federation, a main prop of the reactionary ANC, when in May 2017 they wrote to president Zuma warning that the crisis in Cape Town would ‘lead to war and deaths’.

The letter stated: ‘The rich have money to buy bottled water, whilst the poor will be the first to start dying of thirst, because there is no supply or disaster plan for the end of July to get water to communities when taps run dry.’

This appeal to the ANC was ignored as were the warnings to the local administration, dominated by the Democratic Alliance Party, who made no attempts to deal with the impending collapse. The anger of workers and poor was brought home at a protest organised by Cape Town’s Water Crisis Coalition outside the Civic Centre on January 28 where protesters chanted ‘water for all or the city must fall’ and made it clear that ‘the poor won’t be the scapegoats for incompetence of this city.’

A COSATU representative put it bluntly saying:

‘There will be a crisis when Day Zero arrives, because the City does not have enough tanks to deliver water to all affected areas. There will be riots and illness and death because of this crisis.’

What is inflaming the working class and poor of Cape Town is that the emergency measures frantically being adopted in the past weeks include a drought levy that will hit the poorest hardest and attempts by the City to privatise water and to profit from its supply and sale.

The authorities have refused to invest in drilling for the spring water beneath the city that would alleviate the water crisis for the people. They have refused to stop SA Breweries from using Cape Town spring water to make beer, free of charge, and to stop the use of water to farms during the crisis and restrict the water to only human and animal use.

At the same time, the council’s emergency plans for private industry to build desalination units opens up the privatisation of water supplies. The water crisis in Cape Town is fuelling the fast-developing revolutionary movement in the powerful South African working class who are not prepared to sit back and accept that the vast riches of the country are being looted by a capitalist system that cannot and will not provide the most basic requirement for human life.

South Africa stands on the brink of socialist revolution. This demands the building of the revolutionary leadership of the Fourth International to lead the fight for workers in alliance with the rural poor to bring down the ANC government and go forward to a workers government that will expropriate the bosses and bankers and use the wealth of the country for the benefit of all the people.

This revolution in South Africa will be decisive in inspiring workers across the continent to rise up against bankrupt capitalism and go forward to a Socialist United States of Africa.