Open letter dated 12 October 2017

Dear Sir

Re: investigation into Heart 104.9 and City misinformation campaign

City deceit will lead to thirst and disease in Cape Town and Radio stations are supporting the deceit.

Please receive our request for an investigation into Hear t 104.9 and the City of Cape Town adverts. The City of Cape Town is running an elaborate misinformation scheme to blame the residence of Cape Town for their water bungle and heart FM, is endorsing this lie to their listeners.

This morning [11 October 2017] on the Breakfast show an interview was conducted on what appeared to be behavioural questions. This in itself was very interesting, but very random, if separated from the water crisis in Cape Town. We have heard from sources in the Heart FM that this was in fact a paid interview, from the City of Cape Town through their advertising house.

We would ask that the Broadcasting Authority compels radio stations to declare what is paid interviews before they are aired . If they are not declared as paid interviews it would be assumed that this is just a normal public interest issue.

When in fact it is a paid intervention to shape the narrative around an issue, to cover political and corrupt activities.

In this instance Heart FM can be collaborating in the cover up of a water scandal that is going to have devastating impacts on the community of Cape Town . The reality of the water situation is that the City had failed in their duty to secure water supply adequate to the needs. They must accept some responsibility for that and hold the officials or politicians responsible for that, accountable. The City demand reduction strategy is failing not because of people’s behaviour, which the programme sought to blame, but because the City message has no credibility.

To now want to run an elaborate show on radio to blame the people of Cape Town for what is a City blunder is just deception of the worst kind.

This is in fact similar to subliminal advertising that has been declared inappropriate in many developed countries. The Mayors message of, a well run City will not run out of water” is the biggest impediment to water reduction measures, as it tries to hide the extent of the crisis, and the fact that her administration caused it.

The water demand must be reduced, but it won’t be done with lies and con tactics on radio. The advertising guru all says that the way to restore the credibility of the message is for those responsible to concede their mistake and to get a broader section of society to endorse and support the message.

The cost restrictions on the usage of water, really only affects the poor who cannot afford. The water allocations announced to households are all just voluntary below 20 mega litres. The allocation of water does not take into account the number of residents on a erf, so is discriminatory against poorer communities, who have more people per erf plot.

The solution required is to allocate each person a set amount of water per day , and to allocate plots water in terms of the number of residence on the erf . This would take the water supply away from affordability, to water restrictions that are fair and where we all share the burden equally, irrespective of the price of water. To get the society behind a campaign it has to be seen to be fair and legitimate to all the citizens.

The new supply of water will not be on stream by the time the water runs out in January 2018 and it want be to the scale required in March 2018. The water points that will be needed to circulate tank water to communities have no plan to execute at this stage.

The City continues to have middle class driven solutions, where if you have money you are exempt from the problems, because the city sees you as a paying customer. So poor people are never valued as costumers, because they cannot pay. This water crisis will unfortunately however be the leveller, as the riots and the protest by thirsty people will reach into every area.

This water crisis is real and needs real solutions, but that means the lies and deceit must first stop, so trust can be restored.

Signed by Tony Ehrenreich, Western Cape Provincial Secretary, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)