The Western Cape High Court Judge Ashley Binns-Ward dismissed the application by a member of the ANC Youth League as 'urgency was of self-importance'. Picture: Michael Walker/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - The Western Cape High Court on Monday dismissed an urgent application against Premier Helen Zille's alleged failure to prepare for the water crisis.

ANCYL Dullah Omar Region spokesperson, Advocate Winston Erasmus, took the matter to court, choosing to be the applicant to avoid costs incurred by his party.

Erasmus asked the court to declare that Zille failed to act in accordance with the constitution.

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In court papers, Erasmus requested that voting, scheduled for today for the budget of department of environmental and development planning's Western Cape Appropriation Bill be postponed.

However, Judge Ashley Binns-Ward dismissed the application, saying the “urgency was of self importance” to the applicant only.

Erasmus later said it was a sad day for the environment and for matters of public importance. “We would understand if there was a postponement. We are planning to appeal the matter,” he said.

Erasmus accused provincial government of not testing for E coli, a bacteria, and other pollutants before planning for desalination.

“Section 71 places obligation on government that it should establish a commissioner for environment. It is disappointing that the DA is not doing this,” he said.

The provincial government welcomed the court’s decision.

Zille’s spokesperson, Michael Mpofu, said: “It is disingenuous of the ANC to claim that the notion of a commissioner would have had any powers related to the augmentation of water under the current water crisis.

“Even if there had been a commissioner of the environment, the incumbent could not have given instructions to the national government or local governments in terms of how they carry out their constitutional water mandates, or effect disaster management remedies. To argue otherwise - as the ANC is attempting to do - is false,” he said.

Mpofu said the function of a commissioner, as envisaged in the constitution, had been performed by existing organs of state.

He said an Amendment Bill to remove the provision of establishing a commissioner for environment in the constitution had been published and was out for public comment.

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Cape Argus