I find it hard to take things too seriously because in a hundred years from now everyone on the planet will have vanished and been replaced by eight billion people who don’t currently exist. Also, we live on a giant rock floating in space.
So when people come to me with fear in their eyes and say that Cape Town – where I am at the moment – is about to become the first city in the world to run out of water, I guzzle tequila shots and do cartwheels until they go away.
And while everyone is whispering in urgent tones about the water crisis, I haven’t heard anyone talking about a shortage of beer. That’s because there isn’t one. The solution is obvious. Stop using water and switch to beer. After all, beer is, like, 50% water. The other 50% is supernatural happy juice. You can drink it, soak your clothes in it and even use it to wash your face and gentleman bits. Ladies should wash in wine.
Actually, I did have cause to panic earlier in the week when Western Cape Premier Helen Zille tweeted, “Talking to @WorldOfBeer about bottling 12 million quarts of water (instead of beer) to help us in the event of day zero.” What is wrong with this woman? Beer is the only thing that is going to get everyone through this nasty business.
After Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille went berserk and blamed everyone except herself and her party for the crisis, she was fitted with a muzzle and led away. Zille is now in charge of saving us all from certain death with a series of well-placed tweets. Like this one. “If everyone using water in greater Cape Town, Drakenstein and Stellenbosch sticks to upper limit of 50 litres per person per day, the dams will reach a low of 15%. Day Zero is 13,5%. We can still prevent it by the skin of our teeth.”
By then we won’t have any skin on our teeth. Not being able to brush will have us walking about with mouths seemingly filled with small marsupials.
As princess of the province Zille gets to live in Leeuwenhof, a lavish 17th-century estate lounging elegantly on the slopes of Table Mountain. This week she posted a picture of a tomato in a quarter of a cup of water. “Washing a tomato for supper in a cup. I will use it for other fruit (nectarines and grapes) as well. Then the water left in the cup goes into the toilet cistern.”
Another tweet had a photo of her standing in a tin basin having a wash – mercifully showing only her bare feet. In response, Mududzi tweeted a photo of himself bathing with kitchen utensils. Zille responded, “No no no! No baths, not even with your pots and pans. Take them into a 90-second shower instead.”
In an effort to shame the city’s top 100 water abusers, a list of addresses from Camps Bay to Crossroads was released. Just the name of the street, suburb and water consumption. In other words, no shaming at all, really. Topping the list is someone in Haywood Road, Crawford, using 702 000 litres a month. That’s got to be a clandestine grow house. Thanks to this list, everyone in Haywood Road is now a suspect.
So far there is no technical strategy in place for dealing with Day Zero. The city’s only plan seems to be to urge residents not to use more than 50 litres a day. What a brilliant idea. Let’s rely on the inherent goodness in people. On their willingness to sacrifice for a common cause. Does Zille even know what people are like? It reminds me of the time Neville Chamberlain met Hitler and made him pinky swear that he wouldn’t start a war.
Oh, wait. That’s not the only plan. Zille has also suggested that to relieve the pressure on the municipal water system, people could book into hotels for the duration of the drought. I’m not joking. She really said this. That’s fine for Jacob Zuma’s bagmen in the state-owned enterprises – they can go and stay at the Oberoi Hotel in Dubai for free, thanks to the generosity of the adorable Gupta family.
At least 60% of city residents aren’t sticking to the daily limit. That’s because most people don’t care about anyone they’re not related to or have no chance of sleeping with. They’re not going to suffer for the benefit of strangers. They care only about themselves. Cape Town has plenty of them. They are called The Rich. So when you overhear someone droning on about the state of the Salukis (the Range Rover is in such a mess!) because the doggy parlours have closed down, you need to go up to them and say, “Shut your borehole.” You may wish to deliver a light slapping. Apart from hard currency, it’s the only language they understand.
One thing is certain, though. While we the people are wearing edible broeks, pooing in the bushes, eating off open fires, drinking our own urine and rutting like wild animals, The Rich will carry on as if nothing is amiss. The lowering of standards does not come easily to them. They are different to us. They will fill their pools with Perrier and drink cocktails on their verdant lawns. They will also know that we are coming for them. Well, for their water, anyway. Nobody wants the French Revolution.
The chattering classes – those of the metropolitan middle – have it that the problem is not one of too little water but rather too many people. What they really mean is too many immigrants. And by immigrants they mean people from the Eastern Cape.
There are moves afoot to impose a series of incremental fines on households that use more than their fair share. Obviously if you don’t have a water meter you can’t be fined. And who doesn’t have water meters? The poor, that’s who. They get to sit around their communal taps and drink all day long, then wash their goats and hose down their shacks when they catch fire and there’s nothing we can do about it. Damn their selfish eyes.
It hasn’t escaped the attention of Zille’s followers. This from a white rugby player from Kraaifontein, “Why should we that pay for water save if the people that doesnt pay water dont save? And what is the DA doing? Nothing instead of fixing the crisis you guys fight under each other.” At least his privileged education is finally paying off.
The city has issued an online map showing all the plots in Cape Town – apart from the plot to destroy Patricia de Lille’s career, obviously. An incredibly complex system involving coloured dots indicates who is saving water and who needs to be ashamed of themselves. I’m colour blind so it makes no sense to me at all.
I’m not the only one. “What I don’t understand is why the city still tolerates households consuming more than 10k litres? Why is the water map not showing red dots? If I would see my neighbor with a red dot I would go over and have a talk to help them to use less water!” Have a talk, eh? I reckon once that chat was over there’d be red dots of arterial spray all over the house.
Another suggested that watershedding should start now. You’d think, right? Before Day Zero kicks in, there really ought to be a dry run. Haha. “Shut it down now except for essential services … bring in the bowsers now.”
For those who aren’t familiar, bowsers are St Bernard dogs crossed with pitbulls. They are trained to distribute water to the needy and attack the wasteful. Unlike many of us, they are able to interpret the water map. However, they do need help accessing the internet.
Alexandra suggested that people should stop complaining because it does nothing to provide water. “Do your part, be wise with water and prayer. Pray for our government, our leaders and the poor. When God brings the floods they will be mostly impacted.”
It was probably excessive praying for sunny weather that caused the drought in the first place. God has been known to overreact at times so please tone down the prayers for rain.
Meanwhile, another tweet from Zille, complimenting some or other shiny-eyed family of do-gooders on their increasingly ludicrous water-saving measures, said, “Some people are really catching the “gees” of saving water.” Ah, yes. The old “gees”. The spirit. The last time we had it was during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, except this time we’re all going to die at the hands of thirst-crazed gangs with names like the H2 Ous. That’s if the Black Death doesn’t get us first.
By April the taps will be turned off and people will be lining up at one of the 200 distribution points around Cape Town. This could mean at least 10 000 people arriving at each point every day. I’m not going to be able to do it. I can’t be in a queue of ten people without being consumed by homicidal fantasies. Fights over bottled water are already breaking out in supermarkets.
Armageddon outta here.