Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: REUTERS
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: REUTERS

Union federation Cosatu wants deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to spearhead the fight to fend off "day zero" — the day the taps are turned off — in Cape Town.

Its Western Cape provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich wrote to Ramaphosa on Tuesday requesting his intervention to stave off the day — forecast for mid-April.

"We need a national champion with the credibility and political authority to make a decisive intervention into the crisis‚" he said. "We believe that your good offices can play that role in assisting Capetonians overcome this crisis‚ and appeal for your assistance."

Ehrenreich said water-demand management measures had failed because the City of Cape Town had been "less than honest" with people.

"Mayor [Patricia] de Lille is not trusted by people on the water challenge‚ so her appeals for water reduction fall on deaf ears‚" he said. "Premier [Helen] Zille has, at this late stage, realised there is a crisis and entered the fray‚ but, unfortunately, she will also not be heard because of her refugee and colonialist attitudes and statements."

Ehrenreich said desalination plans were "hopelessly behind schedule" but agriculture was still consuming millions of litres of water.

In the "dire" situation Cape Town faced‚ "water to agriculture must be stopped for irrigation that is not central to food security. Only people and livestock should get water now‚ as wines and fruit exports are not central needs".