Cape Town’s water crisis will undoubtedly go down as one big stain on Patricia De Lille’s tenure as mayor of the city. The so-called ‘day zero’, that is, the day that many Capetonian’s taps were supposed to go dry, will forever remain a big mystery to South Africans, mostly the Cape Town residents.
Was there truth in the ‘ day zero’ announced by the Democratic Allaince (DA)?
What led the DA-led government to make such an alarming pronouncement, and was there a political will from different spheres of government to resolve the water crises in the mother city?
In A House Divided, local government expert Crispian Olver tries to find all these answers for his readers. Through rigorous interviews with different roles players, politicians, civil servants, and ordinary citizens, Olver thoroughly digs deeper into different layers that led to the water crisis, a scandal that truly exposed the battered relations between Patricia De Lille and the pettiness of politicians in the face of crisis.
Perusing through the pages of this book, readers will appreciate Olver’s thorough investigation in how, despite being denied access to the City’s documents, he still managed to expose lots of mistakes which were at the heart of the scandal and also different ills that continue to dominate municipalities in South Africa such as the relationship between politicians and business leaders.
However, I believe the manner in which the scribe delivers his story it will easily be interpreted as him directly attacking Patricia De Lille’s tenure as mayor in the City of Cape Town. While I sincerely thought the author would provide a deeper breakdown of what led Cape Town to face the water crisis and also expose the DA’s claims of ‘ day zero’, the author largely channelled all his energy in describing De Lille’s leadership style during her tenure as mayor of Cape Town, her ‘bullying tendencies’, her relationship with business leaders, and her political feud with some DA leaders and civil servants in the Cape Town’s city hall.
I couldn’t help but think this is just a book that aims to rubbish De Lille’s legacy more than exposing the failures of the DA in dealing with the water crisis. This is also compounded by the fact that the scribe decided to interview all the people who were against De Lille’s mayorship and failed to give De Lille an opportunity to state her side of the story before publishing the book.
If the argument is that De Lille was busy with her ‘election campaign’, why then not wait for her and publish the book once she has stated her side of the story. The book read like a carefully orchestrated assault on De Lille’s mayoral legacy and one which readers should take with a grain of salt. Without the voice of the supposed ‘main actor’ on the water crisis scandal, this makes the book one-sided.