Warren Thompson
3 minute read
27 Jan 2018
12:23 pm

Open letter to Cyril Ramaphosa: ‘The worst is about to happen’

Warren Thompson

'We need emergency funding, which over time can be replaced with third-party funding, but right now we need some emergency funding to be raised.'

WARREN THOMPSON:  Another urgent thing for the deputy president to handle will be the Cape Town water crisis. This is according to Magda Wierzycka, the CEO of Sygnia, who earlier penned an open letter to the deputy president.

This is what she had to say a little earlier this afternoon on her thoughts around how we got to this situation, where we are going to be a couple of days away from Day Zero when the city will be forced to switch off its taps.

MAGDA WIERZYCKA:  Look. it’s very difficult to take. I went to a DA meeting last night and I think if I wasn’t panicking before I was panicking after that meeting. It was a briefing of CEOs in Cape Town.

My sense of it was that we are completely, woefully unprepared for what is going to happen, on every front.

WARREN THOMPSON:  Okay, so we are deep into crisis mode here. What do you want the deputy president to do?

MAGDA WIERZYCKA:  I want him to recognise that this is a crisis. I want him to set up literally what happened at Eskom – which is to set up of a war room, staffed with real experts and not amateurs, and if so, international expects. But we don’t even need international experts. At this briefing in Cape Town yesterday there were plenty of people with a huge amount of experience in the provision of emergency water supplies.

We need emergency funding, which over time can be replaced with third-party funding, but right now we need some emergency funding to be raised.

And we need to look at what is feasible in order to resolve the situation while water is switched off. Just at a very basic level, imagine all the old and sick people who are now expected to go and fetch 25 litres of water every day, that is 25 kilograms, roughly, of water that they have to carry. My 80-year-old father, who suffered surgery, is not going to be queuing for any 25 litres of water.

So there is no time to be wasted. It seems like interesting situation. But I think your…have a tendency to live in a little bit of a lala land. The worst will never happen. Well, I’m now quite sure that the worst is about to happen.

As a consequence, we need creative talent…In the last week I’ve come across a number of feasible short-term solutions, which can prevent this Day Zero from happening. The only thing that I heard last night was that there are plentiful plans, is around having military… Everything else seemed to be very wishy-washy, with no tangibility to it.

I know I am not making any friends, coming on the radio talking about this, but I think that this is beyond the crisis mode. And if we don’t deal with this crisis, then everything that Cyril Ramaphosa tried to achieve in Davos will be for nothing because literally this situation will play itself out across every single blog or newspaper for months to come, particularly if people start dying.

And hence every concept of South Africa being an attractive investment destination, dealing with corruption, will pale in comparison to the kind of newsworthiness of writing about a great city with no water.


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