by Crispian Olver
Cape Town, 2018. South Africa’s mother city is wracked by drought. The prospect of premier Helen Zille’s ‘Day Zero’ – the day when all taps run dry – is driving its citizens into a frenzy. When it’s announced that Mayor Patricia de Lille is off the water crisis, the predicament reaches its zenith and politicians turn upon each other.
And so begins a stupendous battle within the Democratic Alliance: who will lead Cape Town? It’s during this time that author and researcher Crispian Olver applies to the City of Cape Town to gain access to certain official documents as part of a research project. He is baffled when his application is rejected without explanation, but this only strengthens his resolve to explore how the city of his childhood is run. In particular, he has his sights set on the relationship between city politicians and property developers.
Olver interviews numerous individuals, including many ‘chopped’ from the city administration. What he uncovers is a pandora’s box of backstabbing, in-fighting and backroom deals. He explores dodgy property developments at Wescape and Maiden’s Cove, delves into attempts to ‘hijack’ civic associations, and exposes the close yet precautious relationship between the mayor and City Hall’s so-called ‘laptop boys’. But his main goal is to understand what led to the political meltdown within the Democratic Alliance, and the defection of De Lille to form her own party.