Friday 23rd Mar 2018

Cape Town - Premier Helen Zille, provincial legislature Speaker Sharna Fernandez and Environmental Affairs MEC Anton Bredell have been hauled to court over their alleged failure to manage the water crisis in the province.

ANCYL Dullah Omar regional spokesperson Advocate Winston Erasmus has filed an urgent application with the Western Cape High Court, saying authorities failed to provide for the establishment of a commissioner for the environment, as set out in the provincial constitution. Erasmus wants the matter to be heard on Monday.

Fernandez has indicated that the provincial parliament will oppose the application. Attempts to reach Zille through her spokesperson, Michael Mpofu, were unsuccessful.

Last week, activists called for the DA leadership to be charged for wastage of funds and mismanagement of the crisis following DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s announcement last week that Day Zero would not occur this year provided citizens continued consuming water at current levels and there was decent winter rainfall.

The announcement that Day Zero had been defeated was met with outrage, with activists accusing authorities and the DA of playing with the lives of their 4 million citizens.

In an affidavit, Erasmus charges that Zille’s refusal to implement provincial legislation, as required in terms of the provincial constitution, is a breach of her duty. “The premier is responsible for co-ordinating the functions of the provincial administration and its departments. As such, the premier has failed to instruct the MEC for Environmental Affairs, who is responsible for provincial environmental affairs and for implementing national and provincial development planning policy to prepare and initiate provincial legislation which would cater for the matters incidental to the office of the environmental commissioner, as contemplated in the Western Cape constitution,” Erasmus said. By failing to establish a commissioner for the environment, the provincial executive failed to act in accordance with the constitution, he said. “By failing and/or refusing to appoint a commissioner for the environment, the premier and her MEC broke their oaths of office,” Erasmus said.

As head of the legislature, Fernandez had to ensure the legislature provided for mechanisms to ensure that all provincial organs of state were accountable to it and to oversee the provincial executive authority, including the implementation of legislation.

“The legislature has failed to ho* d the executive accountable for failing and/or refusing to establish a commissioner for the environment. The Speaker must take full responsibility for the legislature’s failure,” Erasmus said. He further charged that by failing to establish the office of commissioner for the environment, Bredell had failed to act in accordance with the provincial constitution. “The appointment of the commissioner is an obligation imposed by the provincial constitution, which is binding on the provincial legislature and the executive.”

Provincial ANC Youth League chairperson Muhammad Khalid Sayed said the league welcomed the urgent application. “The premier has failed to appoint a commissioner of the environment, as required in terms of section 71 of the provincial constitution. “The Speaker has failed to hold the executive accountable for not complying with the legislation of the province and the national constitution,” Sayed said. The ANCYL would not compromise on the rights enshrined in the constitution, which provides that “everyone has the right to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations through reasonable legislative and other measures”, he said. “We are encouraging young people to be critical of the City of Cape Town and Western Cape government which have negligently managed our water resources, and we are now witnessing the unsustainable over-abstraction of groundwater, desalination of contaminated seawater, and the pollution of the Cape Flats aquifer with wastewater,” Sayed said.
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