Reboot Makana Municipality

Rhodes>Perspective>2014 Archive

LIVED in the tranquil village-like university town of Grahamstown for five years. Like with all things to be remembered, it was supposed to have been for just one year pursuant of my studies as a senior student at Rhodes University's journalism school. It was the best decision I made as a young adult.

I had left the humid, hot province of Limpopo and rural Venda to pursue my studies in the hope of being a better person so that I could meaningfully contribute to our country, the South Africa of Robert Sobukwe, Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada et al. I met many people, made some good friends and befriended some people I couldn't take home.

I became friends with academics and local political figures as well as people who didn't know the meaning of deployment, or those who thought sophistication was a name of a person. All in all I managed to fit in, something that is always good for a journalist, I guess. By the time I graduated I could converse with an academic over a glass of red wine at the infamous Rat and Parrot by day, only later on to hook up with the working class municipal officials over a conversation and more beer while we made jokes with dirty All Star-clad pantsulas from the neglected township of Joza.

It was an authentic little town with a diverse population - very real. A very interesting place whose stories I'll share with my son, RF Floyc jnr, whom I fathered while I lived there. We'll laugh about such Call stories until we sob until he turns 21, or more. Anyway, this beautiful town that Q is also home to the now 40-year-old National Arts Festival as well as the Highway Africa also has a story to tell, albeit a sad one. It is home to the badly run Makana Municipality, the reason for this column today. If everything else is all good and interesting Rudzani I about Grahamstown, then the only Musekwz down(ner) is Makana Municipality, and those who ran it before and after my arrival in that town.

Just how such a badly run municipality is still allowed to run when there doesn't seem to be a reason for its continuation because of its mediocrity is something I don't understand. The problem at Makana is poor service delivery and a rumour of pals for jobs — or better still, jobs for homeboys and girls instead of those who are capable of doing the right thing regardless of where they were born. It's not news to hear murmurs of favouritism towards homeboys and girls, and constant oppression of those who come from neighbouring cities like Port Elizabeth, East London and thereabouts. Such rumours have never been openly investigated, but they linger around and those on the receiving end speak about them with their hands on their mouths, fearing reprisals.

That as an aside. The incompetence that has led to that municipality recently being aided by the university is a story that was well published and never denied. Well, they spun it here and there, but the reality is that they got some cash from Rhodes University to help them here and there. The municipal workers have been subjected to their salaries being paid late or in bits and pieces while the municipal bosses hustled for 11th hour cash to do the honourable thing, pay the workers. But it doesn't end there.

While all this was happening there'd be township folk outside the building looking for the mayor as they protested about service delivery. This was the order of the day during and after my stay there. The municipal building has possibly been vandalised more than any other in the country. Enter new mayor Zamuxolo Peter, a friendly gent with what looks like a permanent smile and a gap. Same old, same old. The stories in the newspapers right now are that he purchased a car worth a little more than R300 000 some time last year and it has already been auctioned to pay for that which the municipality owed.

Now that is insensitive and a kick in the teeth of Grahamstonians who more often than not go to work with last night's sweat because there's no water in town. This recent occurrence in Grahamstown should be the last before the ruling ANC does something honourable, shuts that municipality down and reboots it like a popular but troublesome gadget.

Tribal preferences for jobs and incompetence should be a thing of the past in that municipality or the people will rebel and it won't be pretty. Makana Municipality has become a case study of how not to run a municipality and the poor people of Grahamstown have been unnecessarily on the receiving end for a while now. Shut that municipality down and start afresh.

By Rudzani Floyd Musekwa

Source: The Herald