Letters to the editor: June 9 to 14 2017

There are two sides to colonialism’s legacy

As an Englishman now living in South Africa I am fascinated by the reaction to Helen Zille’s comments on the balance sheet left by colonialism.

My own country was colonised by the Romans, the Danes and the French, and each in turn left their legacy both for good and ill. The result is that we are a people with a history, and the richer for it.

Without going into the details of Zille’s later tweets, I would point out that it is not necessary to look very far for an example of colonialism’s darker side. It is an inconvenient truth that the Nguni peoples colonised Southern Africa by displacing indigenous people, marginalising them and displacing them ruthlessly to its desert regions. Until recently they did not even have their language recognised officially.

It is surely futile to live in the past. We all have to make the best of what we have now. – Richard Garratt

■ The recent developments in the Democratic Alliance have sent the party backwards. Helen Zille’s comments on social media and her subsequent justification are an insult to black people who voted for the DA.

It is unfortunate that a leader who fought racial injustices in the past is the one who is entangled in this mess. To say that not all aspects of colonialism were negative is tantamount to saying that not all aspects of apartheid were negative. Only a person who speaks from a point of privilege can postulate such views.

Africa in general is trying to deal with the effects of colonialism that linger on and one cannot argue that not all aspects of colonialism were negative.

Irrespective of all infrastructural development that came as a result of colonialism, any system that degrades human dignity cannot be seen in any way as having certain benefits or positives.

It is unfortunate that Mmusi Maimane legitimises the DA by being a crowd-puller for black votes. His values are compromised and his continued stay in the DA will make him a villain in the eyes of many black South Africans and this will hurt the construction of a DA’s narrative that seeks to build a nonracial South Africa.

The biggest winner in this colonialism issue are the Economic Freedom Fighters. – Itumeleng Ntsoelengoe Aphane

Cape water crisis long in the making

For a quality paper I would expect a Mail & Guardian news analysis to know how a situation arose. Sipho Kings did not do well in The Cape will be dry by August, missing two salient points.

First, the department of water affairs and forestry failed to carry out the environmental management plan in 1996. The plans for a new dam were going ahead until the government scrapped the Skuifraam Dam (Berg River Dam) and built houses without the necessary infrastructure. This is one of the many mistakes made by the ANC appointees who thought they knew better than the experts. I have the information in hard copy.

The study, Western Cape Analysis, showed Cape Town would run out of water by 1998. The government was aware of this but ignored the findings. The Skuifraam Dam was projected to supply water for only 640 000 people. The minister, Kader Asmal, turned the scheme down. The director of planning was ignored. Judging by the pointless comment by Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, at this late stage, not much has changed.

Second, Kings takes no account of the influx of people into Cape Town. The latest figure is an increase of 10% in two years – and that’s the number known. The population increase has shown up the lack of planning by the national government, exacerbated by the reported minimal budgets allocated to the Democratic Alliance-run province. The urban myth and observations of communal taps running constantly do not help.

With the increase in houses and flush toilets in the Cape Town area there is an exponential increase in the use of water. The policing of use is an ever-increasing burden on the metropolitan authorities. It is an impossible task where many public water outlets are not metered.

Also, the weather pattern in recent years has produced fewer low-pressure systems bearing rain. For some years these depressions have been pushed further south. But, as far back as the 1980s, these weather systems were heading southeast as they arrived on the Western Cape coast. So it’s not news. No one took any notice of those who study such things. – Tom Morgan

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