The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis
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CLOSUP Student Working Paper Series Number 37 April 2018 The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis Grant Rivas, University of Michigan This paper is available online at http://closup.umich.edu Papers in the CLOSUP Student Working Paper Series are written by students at the University of Michigan. This paper was submitted as part of the Winter 2018 course PubPol 495 Energy and Environmental Policy Research, that is part of the CLOSUP in the Classroom Initiative. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy or any sponsoring agency Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy University of Michigan
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis Grant Rivas Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy April 25th, 2018
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 1 Abstract: A combination of rapid population growth, lack of proactive water management policy, and prolonged drought have put Cape Town, South Africa on the verge of becoming the first major, global city to effectively run out of water, a crisis projected to threaten more cities in the future due to changing climate patterns. This paper analyzes the public statements of officials from the African National Congress and Democratic Alliance—the two major political parties within South Africa— to examine how conflict between government actors at both the national and state level affected the management of the Cape Town water crisis. To study this issue, the paper specifically examines actors’ discussion of assigning responsibility for the crisis and identifying potential policy solutions. From this analysis, the paper finds that actors from both parties attempted to leverage the crisis as a political tool and that their discussion has primarily revolved around blaming political opponents rather than identifying solutions. These findings show the importance of collaboration between both discrete branches of government and rival political parties during crisis situations. It also emphasizes the need for world leaders to proactively plan against future droughts and other natural disasters potentially worsened by climate change.
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 2 Introduction: Sub-Saharan Africa has long struggled with water stress and scarcity due to the primarily dry, arid regional climate. Only 22-34% of the Sub-Saharan population has access to clean drinking water and much of the region’s supply is largely dependent on both annual weather patterns and population growth (Tatlock, 2006). A lack of water has been detrimental to the region’s growth from both economic and human development perspectives because water scarcity creates public health concerns and threatens agricultural production. In addition, the recent War in Darfur, Sudan, which has already killed over 300,000 people and displaced another 3,000,000, was largely started as a result of limited access to clean water (Darfur Conflict, 2014). While this issue is already critical, the scientific community largely concurs that global climate change will create more extreme, variable weather patterns including severe, extended droughts and massive heat waves (Infographic: Extreme Weather, 2012). Climate change will especially impact drought vulnerable areas like Sub-Saharan Africa and exacerbate issues which already severely inhibit the region’s development. Indeed, the UNEP projects that over 50% of the African continent is projected to suffer from greater water scarcity and stress by the year 2025 (Africa Water Vision 2025, 2009). Many researchers also concur that rapid population growth within countries puts even greater strain on water availability than climate change (Lall, 2010). Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to have its population more than double over the next 40 years, making it even more vulnerable to increased water scarcity (Pflanz, 2013). Organizations like the UN have already begun to prepare for the effect of population growth on water scarcity by instituting initiatives like the International Decade of Action: Water for Life, a project focused on increasing the
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 3 amount of available drinking water by addressing issues such as population growth (UNDESA, 2014). While climate change and population growth will exacerbate the threat of water scarcity in the coming years, some regions within Sub-Saharan Africa may already be experiencing the adverse effects of these patterns. Cape Town, the capital and most populous city of South Africa, is on the verge of reaching so-called “Day Zero”—the day at which the city will effectively run out of available drinking water. Cape Town has not had historically high rates of access to water, but severe, unprecedented drought in recent years has left the city in a state of crisis. Additionally, the city’s population doubled over a 15-year period from 1996-2011, putting even more pressure on water sources and infrastructure (Peterson, 2016). These factors have lowered dam levels in Cape Town from over 70% in 2014 to just over 20% today (City of Cape Town, 2018). On Day Zero, the city will run below the requisite 13.5% capacity of supply dams and shut off water services for almost all of the over four million residents of Cape Town. Figure 1: (Bohatch, 2017) The local government has already been implementing measures to decrease water consumption and prepare for the potential of Day Zero. For example, while the government has long advertised voluntary limitations on water consumption, it has more recently enforced strict
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 4 water regulations, currently limiting individuals to 13 gallons of water per day. 1 Additionally, the government has also begun to build water distribution centers outside most major grocery stores and other local gathering places in preparation for the water shutoff (Winsor, 2018). As described by the Chief of Cape Town's disaster operations center, Greg Pillay, “We’ve identified four risks: water shortages, sanitation failures, disease outbreaks and anarchy due to competition for scarce resources...in my 40 years in emergency services, this is the biggest crisis" (Watts, 2018). Individuals have also taken initiative to avoid Day Zero, mobilizing their communities to conserve water by doing things like crafting water distribution tools to help locals gather water at natural springs across the city (McKenzie and Swails, 2018). These efforts have helped Cape Town decrease daily water consumption by over 60% from 1.2 billion liters to now only 510 liters of water (Winsor, 2018). Although Day Zero was originally projected to occur in Spring 2018, projections now show that Cape Town may have delayed it until early 2019. Moreover, if the drought ends sometime in the next few years, Cape Town may yet have hope to avoid becoming the first major global city to run out of water (McKenzie and Swails, 2018). While recent results have been promising, it is still too soon to consider Cape Town safe from reaching Day Zero. Further policy intervention is needed to not only mitigate the continued overconsumption of water in many wealthy neighborhoods of Cape Town but also identify new, sustainable sources of water for the city’s future. However, infighting between national political parties makes identifying and implementing policy solutions a challenge. This paper attempts to study how various actors from the two major political parties within the South African government discuss the water scarcity crisis in Cape Town. It does this 1 For reference, Americans use between 80-100 gallons of water per day on average (Winsor, 2018).
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 5 by looking at articles in African newspapers describing the crisis and studying the language used by actors to assign responsibility and propose future policy solutions. The deviant case of Cape Town is worthy of academic study so as to analyze and examine the circumstances surrounding a crisis that many other major cities—including Los Angeles, London, and San Paulo—may soon face as a result of climate change and population growth (Frisk, 2018). Literature Review: The amount of literature written on policy responses to severe climate and weather is large and continuously growing. Changing climate and weather patterns have presented new challenges for policy makers across a number of fields including water resource management. Articles such as Dai (2013) demonstrate that climate change has increased the number and severity of global droughts in recent years and show that the number of severe, widespread droughts is projected to increase over the next 30-90 years. This work emphasizes that it is important to study current examples of extreme drought—such as Cape Town— as more cities may face similar changes in future years. Gerlak (2006) studies the broader history of water management policy in the United States, specifically trying to answer how the struggle between federal oversight and local autonomy affects water management. The author looks at five different “streams” of water management in the United States and conducts broader case studies about how policy differed throughout different points in history. From this analysis, Gerlak (2006) suggests that a policy of pragmatic federalism dominates US water management policy and encourages both collaborative partnerships between federal and local institutions as well as a problem-oriented approach. This
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 6 article highlights the importance of the relationship between national and local institutions in water management policy and the challenges that a non-collaborative approach creates. Other papers have begun to research the effectiveness of water management policies by looking at individual cases like California, which recently experienced a prolonged, severe drought. Specifically, Palazzo et al. (2017) attempts to answer why 50% of urban water districts in California did not meet their individual conservation target, despite the overall state reducing water usage by over 25%. The paper uses a series of regression analyses to compare water reduction in different districts with other variables. Results from this analysis showed that a variety of economic, environmental and institutional factors affected districts’ relative levels of water usage reduction. Among the most prominent factors affecting water usage reduction were median income, drought severity, and prior levels of water usage. These findings demonstrate that it is crucial to study how individual actors and communities are affected by drought policy as there can be great variation among groups. Tortajada et al. (2017) also examines the California drought as a case study, using it to examine how decision-making and resource availability affected resiliency building. The paper defines resilience in the context of climate change as the ability of social and ecological systems to adapt and change while still retaining the same basic structure or ways of functioning. The authors view coping responses and resiliency building as essential for communities adapting to climate change and looks at responses from actors—primarily in agriculture and government— during the California drought to examine resilient behavior. The paper overlays agricultural production and weather pattern data with policy decisions to understand the implications of various decisions. Tortajada et al. (2017) considers California’s response to the drought to have been relatively successful and points to decentralized decision making and shared responsibility
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 7 for water management amongst multiple institutions as among the reasons for this success. It also calls for advanced preparation for policy and institutional responses for future crises in not just California but other regions as well, considering the changing global climate. Like Tortajada et al. (2017), Crase and Cooper (2017) conduct a case study to better understand the success of different water resource management policies during severe droughts. Specifically, Crase and Cooper (2017) attempt to determine the direction of contemporary water management interventions by studying different policies introduced by the Australian Government during the Millennium Drought from the mid 1990s-2010.The paper primarily studies the country’s water policies and the drought’s impact on them rather than the new policies implemented to directly address the drought. It utilizes a framework that examines a number of areas such as urban, agricultural, and environmental water use and ultimately argues that increased connectivity between water users with varying levels of demand—such as farmers and urban dwellers—has the potential to increase adaptability among consumers and reduce the impact of water scarcity. This study again demonstrates the value of studying the relationship between different actors and suggests that more communal solutions to crisis may help limit the impact of droughts. Unlike other case studies, McLeman et al. (2008) does not look to modern examples of climate change, but past deviant climate phenomena. During the mid-1930s the state of Oklahoma experienced a disastrous mix of harsh drought and heavy rain that caused widespread crop failure, economic collapse, and general hardship in rural communities. By using a variety of primary and secondary sources, McLeman et al. (2008) examines how communities responded to extreme climate changes paying particular attention to the scale of adaption, the roles of various actors, and limitations of adaptation. The paper’s findings suggest that rural communities may
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 8 have more adaptive potential than is generally perceived and that government should play a more active role in supporting at-risk communities both in advance of and during extreme weather situations. Although this case may seem slightly outdated, identifying the successes and failures of past policy makers after requisite time is given to fully understand the implications of their decisions is valuable for approaching climate change related challenges. In the context of new research, McLeman et al. (2008) is also valuable as a framework for examining the role of actors and community in adapting to extreme climate. Specifically looking at past droughts in South Africa, O’Farrell et al. (2009) uses a case study to look at what policies the South African government and smaller institutions adopted during previous droughts to better understand historical approaches to these crises. Considering droughts are only expected to become more frequent in future years, this paper also asks what past practices suggest for the future of drought management. To answer these questions, the paper uses a framework that studies how actors evade, respond to, and endure droughts as well as context for how broader, racial challenges in the country have contributed to these policies. Based off its analysis, O’Farrell et al. (2009) suggests that policy makers must urgently address drought preparedness given the state’s current inability to adequately address the issue and global weather patterns. Among other proposals, they suggest that South Africa must build social and institutional capacity, strive for a broader culture of sustainability, and embed drought- coping mechanisms into land restitution policies. The literature both emphasizes the importance of research into drought management policy and the role of individual actors in setting the policy landscape (Crase and Cooper, 2017 and McLeman et al, 2008). In addition, it suggests that a collaborative relationship between government bodies is essential to effective management (Gerlak, 2006 and Tortajada et al, 2017).
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 9 This paper uses past research as a framework to build upon the existing literature and study how the role of national and state actors affects the Cape Town water crisis. In conducting this analysis, the paper not only furthers understanding of the role of government actors and institutions in managing drought crisis but also applies current theories to what may become the most severe and drastic instance of drought in modern history. Methods: As discussed in the introduction, the current water crisis occurring in Cape Town, South Africa is exceptional and worthy of academic study given broader changes in the Earth’s climate and population growth patterns in the region. This case study into the crisis attempts to answer the following research question: how does political conflict between government actors affect policy outcomes in crisis situations? To answer this question, I will use a framework that studies how South African government officials from both the African National Congress (ANC) and Democratic Alliance (DA)—the two major political parties of South Africa—have discussed and responded to the crisis. Similar to that described in Seawright and Gerring (2008), this paper is an example of a deviant case study. A deviant case is one that strongly differs from normal outcomes and my case qualifies as deviant because Cape Town may well become the first major city on the planet to effectively run out of water. By analyzing this deviant case, I hope to draw conclusions about how Cape Town might have avoided this outcome, what the city might do moving forward, and what steps other major cities can take to avoid similar situations. I look at newspaper articles to collect data and better understand how relevant actors are talking about the crisis. I give local Cape Town newspapers priority over international
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 10 publications to give the most accurate and comprehensive view of political actors’ opinions. A variety of major South African newspapers were sourced in this research to limit editorial bias by authors. South Africa is governed as a parliamentary republic, where the democratically elected Parliament of South Africa nominate a President, who serves as both the head of state and head of government. Additionally, the nine provinces of South Africa each have their own provincial parliaments, led by a Premier. In terms of actors, this paper will be looking at the two major political parties in South Africa, the African National Congress and Democratic Alliance. Members of the ANC serve as Premier in eight of the nine South African provinces. Cyril Ramaphosa, the new President of South Africa, is also a member of the ANC and leads their strong majority in the National Parliament. While the DA is the minority in Parliament, they control many senior government positions throughout the Western Cape—the provincial home of Cape Town—including Premier. Since universal suffrage was established in 1994, the African National Congress has been the national ruling party of South Africa and generally held consistent control of most South African provinces. The party of Nelson Mandela, the ANC has maintained prominence for decades and was the leading opposition group during the apartheid era. While the party does not have much provincial authority in the Western Cape, it still maintains control over national resources and agencies relevant to crisis management. While there are fewer notable actors from the ANC than the DA in relation to the crisis, Nomvula Mokonyane, the former Minister in the Department of Water and Sanitation, and Cyril Ramaphosa, the new President of South Africa, are amongst the most relevant leaders in the crisis.
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 11 The Democratic Alliance has controlled the Western Cape province and Cape Town for much of the past decade and its current leaders are largely those who have been in power since the beginning of the crisis. The DA is considered to be the successor to the apartheid National Party and has a substantial number of white elites among its base. The three most relevant actors of the DA are Patricia de Lille, Mayor of Cape Town since 2011; Mmusi Maimane, the party leader of the DA; and Helen Zille, current Premier of the Western Cape as well as former DA leader and Mayor of Cape Town. While these three actors are the most prominent in regard to the crisis, this paper will also examine the view of some secondary actors within the Democratic Alliance As described above, my framework will specifically study the opinions of these actors across two specific elements: assigning responsibility and identifying future policy solutions. I define assigning responsibility as who groups perceive as most liable for allowing the current crisis to become so dire. Assigning responsibility was chosen to be one of the elements researched because it will best demonstrate how political conflict inhibits the government’s ability to adequately address the issue. It also provides valuable historical analysis about who different actors perceive as responsible for the mistakes that ultimately resulted in the current water crisis. I define identifying policy solutions as the policies actors believe the government should implement to ameliorate the situation. Identifying policy solutions was selected as the second element because it will best demonstrate the opinions of party leaders about next steps and highlight how political tension affects policymaking. I am curious how differences in opinions about what needs to be done both between and within parties will affect the government’s ability to respond to the crisis.
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 12 Results: African National Congress (ANC): Nomvula Mokonyane: Nomvula Mokonyane served as the Minister in the Department of Water and Sanitation from May 2014 through January 2018 and was a prominent cabinet member in former President Jacob Zuma's government. As Minister in the Department of Water and Sanitation, she oversaw the agency within the national government most responsible for addressing the Cape Town crisis. Mokonyane was the senior stakeholder within the ANC responsible for managing the Cape Town crisis for almost four years and was one of the leading voices working to prevent Day Zero (Cruywagen, 2018a). Mokonyane notably holds an optimistic perspective that Day Zero can be avoided and that the city does not need to take a fatalist approach towards the crisis, instead arguing that it can be avoided if proper action is taken (Chambers, 2018a). She has been heavily criticized for this comment as well as for not making the issue a greater priority in her department earlier (Deklerk, 2018). Mokonyane places blame on Mmusi Maimane (the party leader of the DA) and Helen Zille (current Premier of the Western Cape) claiming that they have misused appropriated funds for desalination plants and that the crisis is largely a result of government mismanagement rather than natural disaster. She argues that the DA-led Western Cape government is to blame and that her national agency has taken the appropriate steps to support the province (Jordan, 2018). Mokonyane also explicitly notes that she does not hold Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille exclusively responsible for the crisis and believes that DA leadership is using her as a scapegoat for their mismanagement (Cruywagen, 2018a).
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 13 As noted above, Mokonyane views mismanagement as the biggest cause of the crisis and thinks that better policies directed at limiting mismanagement will be most effective in mitigating the crisis. Prior to leaving her role as minister, her most notable decision was to support the Berg River-Voëlvlei Augmentation scheme as outlined in the National Water Act (Speckman, 2018). This scheme would divert some water from the Berg River to provide drinkable water to the Western Cape (Department of Water Affairs, 2012). Additionally, Mokonyane has approved some plans for desalination plants in the Western Cape (Deklerk, 2018). Mokonyane frequently makes broad requests of the city to limit wasteful overconsumption and do the little things that will save water. Despite these efforts, she has been highly criticized on many fronts for focusing too much on long term solutions and not taking short term considerations of citizens seriously enough (Chambers, 2018b). Cyril Ramaphosa Cyril Ramaphosa recently assumed office as President of South Africa in the wake of former President Jacob Zuma’s corruption scandal. Ramaphosa has been an influential member of the ANC since the apartheid era and was notably Nelson Mandela’s choice for President in the 1990s (Parker, 2018). He most recently served as Deputy President of South Africa from 2014- 2018 until being voted in as President by the National Assembly in February 2018. Although Ramaphosa is new to his leadership position, he has made Cape Town’s crisis one of his premier issues (Mabuza, 2018). Thus far, Ramaphosa has blamed climate change for the crisis, pointing out how the sustained drought is proof for any remaining climate change deniers that they must take the issue seriously (Cyril Reassures, 2018). His discussion of the crisis has not focused on finding blame in past leaders but rather on uniting policymakers around shared goals. Ramaphosa has not yet
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 14 put forth major policy proposals to address the crisis, but has rather used vague, general language describing how he is building working teams and prioritizing the issue with his cabinet. For example, in an interview given on CNN shortly before he assumed the presidency, Ramaphosa stated, “I'm going back home and I'm going to corral as many people as possible to put our heads together and see exactly what we should be doing, not only in the immediate term, but also in the long term” (It’s Cyril to the Rescue, 2018). Ramaphosa has also inserted new leadership to address the crisis at the national level, appointing Gugile Nkwinti as the new Minister in the Department of Water and Sanitation and making Nomvula Mokonyane the new Communications Minister (News Just In, 2018). ANC Leadership: Having led South Africa for the vast majority of the crisis, former President Jacob Zuma has notably said little in relationship to the crisis 2. He had frequently been asked by both constituents and critics to declare the crisis a state of emergency but ultimately failed to act (Laing, 2018a). Other ANC leaders, including provincial chairperson Khaya Magaxa and Former health MEC Theuns Botha, blame the opposition DA's leadership for the crisis, specifically criticizing Mmusi Maimane, Helen Zille, and Ian Neilson (ANC Wants Zille's Head, 2018). Des van Rooyen, Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, revealed that the Western Cape government spent only 24% of funds allocated towards drought relief. While he did not assign blame to specific individuals in the party, he claimed that this underspending was unacceptable and inhibited his ability to lobby for additional resources from the National Treasury (Reasons given for drought relief underspend, 2018). 2 Jacob Zuma served as the fourth President of South Africa from May 9, 2009 to February 14, 2018. He resigned from office after facing a vote of no confidence in Parliament and is currently being prosecuted for corruption charges (York, 2018).
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 15 The Democratic Alliance (DA): Patricia de Lille: Patricia de Lille is the current Mayor of Cape Town and has historically been viewed as one of the most revered politicians in South Africa due to her investigation of a controversial arms deal (du Plessis, 2010). However, she has drawn strong criticism for handling of the Cape Town crisis. In an op-ed for Business Day: South Africa titled “Lack of Rain Not My Fault”, de Lille argues that the administration should not be criticized for the crisis in Cape Town as the administration has implemented many policies that have helped Cape Town drastically reduce the amount of water consumed (de Lille, 2018). Ultimately, she argues that she cannot make it rain in the city and that she is limited in her ability to fully address the crisis. De Lille has resisted blaming any groups or constituencies for creating the crisis and has urged the city to identify united solutions rather than focus on assigning blame. Representatives of her administration have largely supported the mayor’s position, although some officials, including Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson, have accused agriculture businesses, of exacerbating the crisis (Kahn, 2018). The Mayor has been taking steps for years to encourage conscientious use of potable water and has increasingly placed water restrictions on citizens up to the current limit of 13 gallons per day (De Lille: Save resources, 2017). She has emphasized policies focusing on “building resilience” and shifting away from surface water dependency to new options like water re-use, groundwater alternatives, and desalination (Water Scarcity, 2017). However, while the mayor has been devoting funds towards desalination, she does not believe that this is a sustainable long-term solution for the crisis (Deklerk, 2017). De Lille has noted that recycled
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 16 water may be an especially important alternative for businesses that depend on water like manufacturing and construction companies (Taking Major Steps, 2017). Some initiatives supported by de Lille, specifically a proposed tax on wealthier individuals with higher water usage levels, have not been implemented due to resistance from the City Council (Phakathi, 2018a). As is further discussed in the following section, in-party fighting has made it challenging for de Lille to act on the issue, having been removed from her role as head of managing the water crisis (Mzantsi, 2018). Political conflict has risen to the point where de Lille now plans to write a “tell all” book discussing political infighting within the DA in relation to the Cape Town crisis (Nombembe, 2018). Mmusi Maimane and Helen Zille: As the two most prominent leaders in the DA, both Maimane and Zille frequently work in lock step and hold similar stances on issues. Both consider the crisis to be of the utmost importance with Zille going so far as to say it “exceeds anything a major city has had to face anywhere in the world since the Second World War or 9/11” (Chambers, 2018a). Although both hold substantial roles in the government, they have rarely taken responsibility for any blame, instead primarily directing their criticism at Minister Mokonyane, Mayor de Lille, and the broader national government led by the ANC (Jordan, 2018). Specifically, the DA’s leaders have criticized Mokonyane and her Department of Water and Sanitation for failing to update infrastructure and provide augmentation schemes to prevent water shortages. In regard to Mokonyane and the broader ANC’s handling of the situation, Zille claimed that the crisis demonstrated how out of touch the national government is with the day to day experience of citizens and questioned what authority they had to intervene in the issue. Mokonyane deflected these claims by arguing that Zille and Maimane were trying “to shield the
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 17 province and their organization from accountability on the water crisis by shifting blame on the issue to national government” and that her main priority was preventing Day Zero (Deklerk, 2018). They have also greatly criticized de Lille for not creating more stringent water restrictions sooner and have removed her from her role as lead of the drought response team because she withheld key information from both counselors and the party (Praise, criticism from DA, 2018). After the ANC proposed a vote of no confidence in de Lille’s leadership, the DA shockingly supported their motion (Phakathi, 2018b). However, this ultimately resulted in the ANC withdrawing their motion, as ANC leadership did not want to allow DA leadership to scapegoat De Lille and defer responsibility of the crisis onto a single representative. Maimane’s role as Leader of the DA does not give him any formal government role and he has been criticized for overstepping his bounds and interfering in the day-to-day operations of addressing the crisis (Cruywagen, 2018b). Maimane has also been for his lack of specific, “advanced solutions” (Maimane has ‘No Advanced Solutions’, 2018). Thus far, Maimane has only publicly suggested that conserving water is key in preventing Day Zero (Cruywagen, 2018b). Zille has also not strongly endorsed particular policy solutions as much as demanded change from government actors in their approach to the crisis (Praise, criticism from DA, 2018). For example, Zille was a noted critic of the National Treasury for only allocating roughly 500 million USD to drought relief, claiming that the funds were relatively insignificant given the scope of the crisis (Drought Relief Allocation, 2018). Additionally, while she has not truly offered alternative solutions, she has been highly critical of the desalination plants proposed by Nomvula Mokonyane, impeding the development of these projects (Govender, 2018). Zille has
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 18 also devoted many of her comments to discussing management plans for when the city does run out of water instead of discussing potential strategies to avert the crisis. Some of these plans include stationing soldiers at all water distribution points to limit disorder (Soldiers to guard, 2018). Furthermore, Zille has infrequently promoted strategies for conserving water, such as exclusively using grey water in toilet cisterns (Cape Town Water Crisis Persists, 2018). DA Leadership: While Patricia de Lille, Mmusi Maimane, and Helen Zille are the three actors within the DA most responsible for managing the crisis, other party members within the provincial and city government are also working to address water scarcity. JP Smith, the Head of Safety and Security in Cape Town, did not assign blame to either party, but rather noted that residents in affluent areas have not significantly cut back on their water usage. He believes that getting wealthy residents to stop watering their lawns among other strategies would drastically reduce the amount of water needed in Cape Town (Laing, 2018b). City of Cape Town deputy mayor Ian Neilson frequently notes how reduced water usage by citizens provides the best opportunity for preventing Day Zero. Additionally, Nielson is cautiously optimistic that winter rains will alleviate current concerns (Pather, 2018). Analysis: As summarized in Figure 2 below, analyzing the discussion of ANC and DA leaders around assigning blame and identifying potential solutions demonstrates that there are divergent opinions among senior South African political leaders. To further academic understanding of how political conflict between government actors affects policy in crisis situations, this paper now examines what the data specifically suggests about the effects of both partisan conflict and
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 19 federalism on policy outcomes. Additionally, it studies what this discussion implies about the future of the Cape Town water crisis. Figure 2: Summary of Opinions of ANC and DA Leadership Actors Party Position Assigning Identifying Policy Responsibility Solutions Nomvula ANC Former Minister Mismanagement by Berg River-Voëlvlei Mokonyane in the DA-led city and Augmentation scheme, Department of Western Cape limited support for Water and government desalination plants Sanitation Cyril ANC President of Climate Change and Broad solutions, ie Ramaphosa South Africa drought building working teams ANC ANC - Financial Better management of Leadership mismanagement by government funds DA Leadership Patricia de DA Mayor of Cape Resisted blaming Conservative water Lille Town others usage by residents Mmusi DA Party Leader of Mismanagement by Limited policy Maimane and the DA and ANC (Mokonyane) proposals. primarily Helen Zille Premier of the and de Lille focus discussion around Western Cape managing water distribution after Day Zero DA DA - Overconsumption by Conservative water Leadership wealthy residents usage by residents Partisan Conflict and Federalism The data clearly demonstrates that there is a strong difference in opinion between ANC and DA leaders around who is responsible for allowing the crisis to become critical. As shown above, Nomvula Mokonyane suggested that local government mismanagement is most
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 20 responsible for causing a crisis situation. Des van Rooyen further argued that the Western Cape government has not fully allocated funds intended to address the crisis. These comments are in direct contradiction to those of Mmusi Maimane and Helen Zille, both of whom view Mokonyane’s department and the broader national government as having done too little too late to help the nearly four million Cape Town residents threatened by water scarcity. While South Africa is far from the only country that suffers from partisan conflict, it is important to note the contextual factors driving high levels of politicization. The Western Cape is the only province consistently won by the DA, and the ANC views the water crisis as an opportunity to take over a DA stronghold and further political control over South Africa. The DA brands itself as the party of good governance and limited corruption, further explaining why the ANC has shown willingness to attack them for their mismanagement (ANC Hatches Plan, 2018). Conversely, in the wake of President Zuma’s scandals, the DA believes they have an opportune window to take national power if they are able to properly frame the ANC as incompetent and corrupt (York, 2018). These factors have created a political environment in which leadership members from both parties devote substantially more of their public comments to blaming political opponents rather than discussing practical policy solutions. As discussed in several reviewed articles, many Capetonians perceive this “blame game” between the ANC and the DA as a direct cause of the government’s inability to adequately respond to the crisis (Deklerk, 2018 and Jordan, 2018). Despite both parties’ attempts to divert responsibility, the perception that they are playing politics rather than solving issues has damaged their legitimacy among voters, especially in the Western Cape (DA’s Day Zero, 2018). Gerlak (2006) and Tortajada et al. (2017) highlight that effective collaboration between federal and local governments is most effective in addressing drought crises, and the failure of South
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 21 Africa’s political leadership to set aside political concerns in favor of implementing effective policy ignores lessons learned from previous droughts. Furthermore, there is clear intra-party conflict within the DA that mitigates their ability to effectively govern Cape Town during the crisis. Mmusi Maimane, Helen Zille, and the broader DA leadership direct any criticism of their party’s governance toward Mayor Patricia de Lille, who they believe has been ineffective in her management and leadership. Conflict between these two wings of the DA forced policy makers to devote much of their time towards initiatives such as removing de Lille from office instead of focusing all efforts on the crisis. Nomvula Mokonyane also noted how Maimane and Zille’s willingness to scapegoat de Lille rather than take accountability for their mismanagement creates further conflict and shows how DA leadership has prioritized their own personal popularity over good governance. Again, Gerlak (2006) and Tortajada et al. (2017) note how collaboration between institutions is essential in drought management, and in-party fighting within the DA further inhibits different branches of the South African government to jointly craft policies. The Cape Town case also highlights the importance of clearly defined roles between national and provincial governments in a federal model. Mmusi Maimane, Patricia de Lille, and Nomvula Mokonyane have all simultaneously been criticized for overstepping the scope of their positions and not doing enough to address the crisis (Praise, criticism from DA, 2018 and Cruywagen, 2018b). This shows how the blurred line between what different institutions are responsible for in relation to the drought has created confusion around accountability. As shown in articles such as O’Farrell et al. (2009), South Africa has long known that it was threatened by the potential of prolonged drought and an inability to hold specific politicians and institutions accountable for their mismanagement inhibits Cape Town’s ability to make
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 22 progress in addressing water scarcity. A lack of clearly defined roles also prevents both the federal and provincial government from implementing practical solutions because branches are not able to take full ownership of policy outcomes. This is best demonstrated in how disagreement between Nomvula Mokonyane, Patricia de Lille, and Helen Zille about the viability of desalination plants prevented South Africa from taking a clear stance on this policy proposal (Govender, 2018). While Cape Town is less than thirty years removed from apartheid and still an evolving democracy, more clearly defined division between the responsibilities of the provincial government and national ministries would better enable actors to create policy changes. Cape Town Going Forward In addition to the partisan and federal conflict described in the previous section, leading actors have proposed surprisingly few policy solutions thus far. As shown in Figure 2, leaders such as Cyril Ramaphosa have only proposed broad ideas such as building teams to address the crisis. Other actors such as Ian Neilson and Patricia de Lille have not put forth many proposals about how to increase water supply, but rather focused their attention on how to curb overconsumption. Mmusi Maimane and Helen Zille most notably proposed almost no policies intended to prevent the crisis, instead primarily discussing how best to manage water distribution if Day Zero does arrive. Even when legitimate policy proposals are discussed, a lack of clear direction and agreement from ANC and DA party officials prevents full implementation of projects such as desalination plants (Govender, 2018). It is clear from these actors’ discussion of potential policy solutions that there is not one clear path to preventing Day Zero. However, while there may not be a singular policy that will fix the Cape Town water crisis, there are still lessons that both current and future policymakers
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 23 should take away from this analysis and the literature reviewed. As noted by Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson, affluent residents have not mitigated their water usage in light of the crisis. Palazzo et al. (2017) discussed how there have been other past examples of wealthy communities not limiting their water usage in drought crises and continuing water intensive practices such as maintaining front lawns. This is problematic because less affluent communities are disproportionately required to adjust their lifestyle during droughts. Especially when considering South Africa’s history of apartheid and the DA’s perceived role as the party of white elites, the South African government has an obligation to implement policies that ensure at-risk communities are not disproportionately responsible for limiting Cape Town’s water usage. While the data demonstrates that is there are a limited number of plausible, impactful policy options available to current actors in South Africa, this does not mean that there are not steps governments can take to prevent water scarcity crises in light of climate change. As argued in O’Farrell et al. (2009), proactive drought preparedness policies are most effective in limiting damage caused by droughts for countries in already water-scarce regions such as South Africa. Policymakers in other countries should take note of the limited options available to Cape Town and appropriately take steps to improve infrastructure, promote resilience building in communities, and develop a culture of sustainability prior to the onset of droughts. Conclusion: By specifically examining the case of the Cape Town water crisis, this paper furthers academic understanding of how political conflict between government actors affects policy outcomes in crisis situations. In analyzing divergent opinions of leaders within the African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance, it demonstrated how actors’ tendency to play partisan politics rather than address key issues prevented the South African government from
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 24 implementing effective policy solutions. However, this research was conducted as the crisis was ongoing, creating limitations in its findings and a need for future research. The dynamism of this case made it difficult to continuously monitor the opinions of key actors, especially when considering that many were removed from office during the course of research. Indeed, President Zuma’s removal from office drastically altered the South African political landscape and, at the time of this paper’s submission, there is heavy speculation that Patricia de Lille may be forcibly removed from office before the end of the week (Dentlinger, 2018). Additionally, over the past two months, the date of Day Zero was pushed back at least six times. Despite the limitations created by studying a current case, this research provides a valuable, historical perspective of how actors and journalists perceived the crisis as it was ongoing. Future research into the crisis should expand on this paper’s methods as new actors and proposals enter into the policy arena. Furthermore, researchers should also study how political conflict between actors affects water management policy in countries other than South Africa to better understand how crises are affected by different government models. Cities ranging from London to San Paulo are projected to face similar crises in the near future and it would be valuable to understand how countries with differing levels of development and institutional maturity cope with water scarcity (Frisk, 2018). Finally, it would be valuable to look back and examine who past actors in South Africa viewed as responsible for preventing crises and what policies they proposed to limit the threat of drought. Researching their opinions and failures would help policymakers in similarly water threatened countries avoid the same mistakes made by South Africa. The scope of this paper was not intended to compare different potential policy solutions and thus, does not make specific recommendations about what policies South Africa should
The Role of National and State Actors in the Cape Town Water Crisis 25 implement to address the crisis. However, it does identify clear takeaways that both current and future policymakers should recognize in regard to the policymaking process and broader water management policy. This case study clearly demonstrates the tangible, negative impact that political conflict has in relation to instituting impactful policy measures and exemplifies how damaging it is to use a crisis situation as a political tool. Partisan politics are unavoidable in most any country, but in natural disaster situations with the potential for catastrophe, policymakers would be most successful in setting political differences aside and focusing on collaborative solutions. This principle applies to both inter and intra-party conflict. Above all, this paper highlights how desperate a situation becomes when policy makers are not actively strategizing to address water scarcity in advance of a serious drought. With so many cities throughout Sub- Saharan Africa and many other regions of the world at increased risk of water scarcity due to changing climate patterns, policy makers should be proactively working to identify new sources of water and implement progressive water resource management programs before they face the same challenges as Cape Town.
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