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Cape Town is running out of water, and no-one knows what economic impact that will have

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But for him, the focus remained on practical action. “We’re more interested in dealing with the crisis than working out ways to measure it,” he said.

Water tariffs have been criticized for hurting the region’s poor while the rich are able to pay for more water, though Neilson said that the authorities were focused on making water management an “equitable process.”

The local government, run by South Africa’s main opposition party — the Democratic Alliance — has been criticized by some for its efforts to deal with the natural disaster. “The city started too late with water restrictions… Tighter restrictions should have started some years ago when dams failed to fill up properly,” le Roux said.

On a national level, South Africa’s parliament will hold an inquiry into allegations of mismanagement at its Department of Water and Sanitation, Reuters reported Friday. The country’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts has called for a criminal case to be brought against the ministry for opening a 2.9 billion rand ($245 million) overdraft with the central bank, Reuters said.

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