ACDP Councillor Grant Haskin rocked the boat when he shared a “10 Year Capital Expenditure: Water Department” spreadsheet on Facebook.
According to the post, which was shared widely on social media, “the City under-spent its original Capex Budget for Water – every year for the last 10 years”.
R720 million was not spent on new water infrastructure, upgrades, repairs and maintenance, and water services to ratepayers, Haskin noted.
Speaking to the Daily Voice, Haskin says he compiled the information by analysing the financial statements of the City of Cape Town’s annual reports from 2006 to 2016.
“These statements are audited and show that while several funds were allocated for new water infrastructure and repairs and maintenance, the funds were used elsewhere,” the councillor says.
“This is besides sanitation services. I spent two days compiling the information to see what is the cause of the shortages.”
Haskin believes that if the funds were used to build more dams and other infrastructure, enough water would have been reserved.
“We have had droughts before and there have been droughts since Jan van Riebeeck’s time so the City cannot just say they did not anticipate the drought,” he adds.
“I don’t even blame the officials but the politicians who were focused on other things that make them look good. If we had extra dams, we would have had extra water reserved.”
But Mayco Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services and Energy, Xanthea Limberg, says the interpretation of the reports is based on Haskin’s knowledge only, and was put together “to fit a narrative”.
“The originator’s [Haskin] research is based on water and sanitation. The latter would not affect drought management. The inclusion of the sanitation figures also massively over-inflates the purported total, i.e. it is possibly more than doubled,” she says.
“As the originator would know very well as a councillor, an adjustments budget is a legally approved mechanism in terms of Section 28 of the Municipal Finance Management Act.”
Limberg says the City has implemented most of its projects budgeted for.
“Therefore, looking over 10 years of total water budget of more than R8 billion, only a tiny percentage of the earmarked budget would not have been spent over that period on water, due to valid reasons. Clearly, any reasonable person would see that the assertions made, fall flat.
“Despite a near doubling in our population over 20 years, our water usage/demand remained relatively flat.
“This was largely due to our internationally- recognised water demand and conservation programmes,” she added.
According to the latest figures, dam storage levels are at 37.2% with usable water at 27.2%.