It’s very hard to fathom the obtuseness displayed by Councillors Xanthea Lindberg and Matthew Kempthorne of the DA in rejecting some fresh ideas on confronting two major and enduring challenges and dangers that Cape Town is facing, namely, where to dispose waste in the absence of new landfills; and how to meet the uncertainty of water supplies to a growing metropolis in a time of accelerating climate change.
I suggested in one of my motions that Cape Town should benchmark itself against San Francisco which succeeded in reducing the amount of discarded items and waste going to the landfill by an astonishing 80%. Furthermore, that city from 2007 has been successfully waging a war on plastic waste reaching streams, the local beaches and the ocean.
Why is the substantial and large scale minimisation of waste absolutely critical? The President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ms Janine Myburg, urged the council to embark on a new approach as the disposal of waste was going to be the next crisis to hit Cape Town. As with the water crisis, she pointed out, it is unnecessary for such a crisis to seize the city because, in her words, “it is entirely predictable” and “ plans should have been made”.
In my motion I added the following to the list of what the city was doing: enforce waste avoidance, introduce easily accessible collection points for discarded items that still have use, separate waste into different streams at source, issue permits to individuals and companies to facilitate waste diversion, facilitate treatment of recyclable waste by new enterprises to turn trash into cash, develop a market for the reuse of waste materials, ban the use of plastic bags and plastic straws, actively support vermicomposting, research the composting of diapers considering their ability to retain water and set minimisation targets for waste generation.
This motion was smugly dismissed by the DA on the basis that it was doing enough when clearly and disturbingly the opposite is true.
The second motion urged the DA-led administration to work proactively with the water Commission, academics and both internal and external water experts to research the practicability, feasibility and viability of towing icebergs, harvesting fog, using a hybrid dual water supply system, using distinctly coloured and appropriately treated wastewater in fire hydrants, and strategically plant forests near catchment areas to influence the hydrologic cycle.
Calling for such research to be undertaken was rejected by councillor Kempthorne and the DA. Moreover, the DA disputed that warnings were not served on the council since 2007 regarding water supply coming under severe pressure. Googling this matter will show the dishonesty of the DA in this regard.
If either a renewed water crisis or a major waste disposal crisis should hit Cape Town, citizens should understand that it is the obtuseness and perhaps even the arrogance of the DA that will once again plunge the city into chaos and cost ratepayers dearly in punitive tariff charges, loss of business and daily inconvenience.
Giving too big a majority to any political party is detrimental to the welfare of citizens.
Farouk Cassim is a Councillor for the Congress of the People (COPE).