Cape Town city manager given special powers to deal with water crisis

Manager can make important drought-related decisions without following usual permission requirements

Cape Town city manager given special powers to deal with water crisis

26 October 2017

Cape Town - The Cape Town city manager will now be able to make drought-related decisions without following council’s usual statutory procedures or permission requirements, in a bid to make swift action possible when dealing with the water crisis.

Council on Thursday agreed to delegate its authority to Achmat Ebrahim to issue directions in terms of the Disaster Management Act.

According to the recommendation, certain aspects of the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act, the Municipal Finance Management Act and Supply Chain Management regulations, as well as the council’s own Supply Chain Management Policy, failed to adequately provide for the City of Cape Town to "deal effectively and timeously" with the disaster.

"This includes, for example, the procurement of desalination plants necessary to provide fresh water supplies, which are necessary to supplement existing water sources and thereby avoid and minimise the effects of water shortages," it reads.

The drought requires council to "respond rapidly in order to contain and minimise the effects".

According to the Disaster Management Act, council may allow emergency measures in terms of a by-law or a direction issued.

Directions were found to be preferable since the process of drafting, enacting and promulgating a by-law would be too time consuming and "poorly suited" in light of the disaster.

Delegation would allow Ebrahim to issue directions when necessary and in situations where it is not possible for council to do so.

According to the recommendation, conferring delegated authority would not strip council of its authority to issue directions.

Ebrahim’s delegated authority would be limited to directions required for planning, land-use, procurement, installation, commissioning, operation and decommissioning of facilities and operations associated with disasters.

The authority may only be exercised to the extent that it is necessary for the purpose of assisting, protecting and providing relief to the public, protecting property, preventing or combating disruption, or dealing with the destructive and other effects of the disaster.