The Western Cape government has called for municipalities to halt the cut-off of basic services in order to cushion the poor from the economic crisis. This emerged with the launch of a framework to guide the Western Cape response to the economic crisis launched in Cape Town on Wednesday.
The framework falls under the leadership of Western Cape premier Lynne Brown and involves an agreement between representatives of labour, business and civil society to respond to the “contamination effect” of the global economic crisis on the province.
Known as the Western Cape Economic Stability and Poverty Alleviation Plan, it notes that the crisis is negatively impacting on income, employment and poverty levels and requires “urgent and decisive action”.
It proposes that for the duration of the crisis there be no cut-offs of water and basic services due to debt or if households are affected directly by the consequences of the current economic crisis.
Firms in distress should also be spared and not face cut-offs for at least six months while attempts were made to save jobs.
There should also be no evictions from government-owned rental housing as a result of non-payment due to the economic crisis.
At the signing of the declaration, Western Cape premier Lynne Brown said the poor had to be protected from the worst shocks of an economic downturn.
She said in her budget she had done “everything possible” to allocate more money to services which benefited and protected the poor in education, health, and social development.
Brown said partnerships were needed.
“This is not about doing something before an election for publicity purposes. We cannot wait until after the elections to start dealing with the problem. Since my appointment as Premier I have stated consistently that going it alone strategies can never work.”
The Western Cape ANC came out in support of the declaration. In a statement, ANC Western Cape spokesperson Garth Strachan welcomed the call for an end to cut-offs.
Strachan named the City of Cape Town as one of those guilty of “this shameful practise”.
“No municipality should contemplate cutting off services to indigent people for the duration of the economic downturn. In a climate of increased levels of poverty and unemployment, the arbitrary cutting of water is an attack on the poor.”
Attempts to contact Cape Town mayor Helen Zille and mayoral finance committee member Ian Nielson for comment were not successful. — West Cape News