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SAMWU Condemns City of Cape Town’s Attempts to Marginalize the Poor

29 March 2018 / Press Statement

The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) in Western Cape notes with great shock proposals by both the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Provincial Government which seek to squeeze the poor out of the City and the Province. 

The City of Cape Town on Wednesday presented a budget proposal which would result in water tariffs skyrocketing in the next two years. According to the proposed budget, water tariffs are set to increase by 27% from July 1 2018, 30.45% in 2019 and a further 22% in the year 2020 essentially meaning that consumers will be paying double the current rate in the next two years. 

The City has failed to take into account that majority of its residents, particularly the working poor are unable to afford these increases which would definitely result in defaults and consequently these consumers’ water supply being disconnected. This is gravely concerning to us as we understand the conditions which our members and community members live in, unless the City is indirectly telling its residents that the poor do not deserve water, which by the way is a basic human right. 

In justifying these unaffordable increments, the City of Cape Town has argued that it needs to balance its books while on the other hand ensuring that water consumption is reduced in light of the current drought. City of Cape Town however seems to be a confused City led by confused individuals, residents were charged a premium for consuming more than the daily water limit, now that residents have reduced their consumption, they are charged double for doing exactly what the city wanted. 

Unsurprisingly, the Western Cape Government is considering introducing a provincial fuel levy, this in addition to what is already being paid to National Government. This is yet another example of how the Western Cape Government attempts to squeeze the poor out of the province. One can be forgiven for thinking that the the Western Cape Government thinks that South Africa is a Federal county. 

The Provincial Government has failed to take into account the consequential increases which would be a result of the introduction of this provincial fuel levy with food and transport being the first to increase. Already Workers across the country are still to come to terms with the fact that Value Added Tax (VAT) would be increasing to 15% coupled with fuel levy increase both of which are set to increase on the 1st April. 

We are particularly shocked but not surprised by the silence of the Democratic Allience which governs both the City and the Province. When the VAT increase was announced by the Finance Ministry in the Budget Speech earlier on this year, it was the DA leader Mmusi Maimane who was first to cry foul arguing that “no government can tax itself to prosperity” yet now conveniently it suits them to tax residents to prosperity. 

These are just a few examples of how services in the Western Cape particularly in the City of Cape Town are delivered on the basis of one’s financial situation. It therefore makes sense why poor people in the Cape Flats and Townships are neglected because they do not have money to fund the City’s tax regime. 

We therefore call on opposition parties both in Council and the Provincial Legislature to ensure that these proposals do not pass failure to which municipal workers and citizens of this province would have to rise and fight these “taxes” which not only seek to milk the citizens of their hard earned money but also expel those who can’t afford out of the City and the Province. 

Issued by SAMWU Western Cape 
Sydney Flusk , Provincial Secretary, 079 393 1506 
Or 
Papikie MohaleNational Media Officer, 073 710 0356