Chaos in the City of Filth

2010-03-05 00:00

Today is day eight of the municipal workers’ strike and city pavements are fast disappearing under mounds of uncollected rubbish. Local business owners complain of the stink and loss of trade because of the filth. The entrances to garden refuse dumps are disappearing behind looming heaps of rubbish and rotting vegetation. The mayor blames the municipal manager, and the task team has offered R4,5 million for the municipality’s January and February overtime bill. The striking workers are calling for the dissolution of Exco and there seems no end in sight to the strike. What do Pietermaritzburg residents think? ‘The Witness’ letters inbox has been buzzing with correspondence and we publish a selection here.

FIRE Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo (along with Rob Haswell), Pietermaritzburg’s embarrassment. Ever since this delinquent woman took office, our city has become the City of Filth. Pietermaritzburg was once the cleanest of cities.

As a woman, I thought she would at least ensure that the city she runs would be an example to other cities in South Africa and a city to be proud of when foreigners visit.

But alas, she just couldn’t be bothered — another one of those idiots in office who only looks after herself. How desperately we need a Helen Zille in our once-beautiful city. Now Hlatshwayo wants to pay workers for overtime … They sit on their backsides all day doing nothing because they know that they can work overtime and get paid a lot more than what they earn during the day. Fire the lot.



THE Postnet Weekend Witness Marathon was run in the city on Sunday morning by 4 500 athletes, 3 500 of whom were visiting runners. Expertly organised by John Hall and the Carbineers, we all enjoyed the perfect organisation and running conditions. Visiting runners, their families and fans had a first-hand chance to view our unique city streetscape and its environs …

Unfortunately, they were exposed to the most appalling display of a dirty city. Streets were trashed and rubbish was strewn across many roads. Along the route, thousands of uncollected rubbish bags were piled up, many of them torn open, disgorging waste onto the streets. Many municipal streetlights were not burning … and runners had to find their way in the dark at 5 am. They frequently tripped and hurt themselves on damaged gutters, rumble strips and road humps due to the absence of streetlighting maintenance. A city in ruins.

The final straw — the Woodburn rugby fields were a sea of refuse and litter. We were told that President Jacob Zuma had visited on Saturday and there had been a function for him there.

Another missed opportunity and 7 000 visitors must have shaken their heads and left the capital city as soon as possible to escape the spectacle of filth and neglect which pervades it, without any apparent plans for turning this sad state of affairs around.



THIS rioting, destruction and striking is very immature.

Find out where the person who is getting paid to be in charge lives, and when you have no electricity, go to his or her house and disconnect his or her electricity. If you have no water, go and disconnect his or her water. When your refuse is not removed, dump it outside his or her house.

It is the person getting paid to deliver these services who is not doing his or her job. Making a mess all over town is a bit stupid. It is, after all, your town.

Ant Borain


CAN anyone tell us what is wrong with Rob Haswell? If he is suffering from stress, he should resign. And why, as keeper of the treasure trove, has Roy Bridgmohan not come under fire before?

Indeed, can the damagement just resign, and let’s have new business-orientated people with a real passion for this city run the council.

It’s time . Let’s not play — let’s get down to business.



ARE we still going to be charged for refuse removal despite the fact that our refuse has not been picked up? And who is going to pick up all the rubbish strewn all over the streets? It’s about time our “municipality” came up with a plan for cases like this. But I guess they are too concerned with filling their own pockets to worry about what’s going on in the streets.



CONGRATULATIONS to P. M. Miller for his candid letter highlighting the mismanagement in the city, (The Witness, March 3). Despite a resolution taken by the Msunduzi Council prohibiting unnecessary overtime, the exploitation continued. Any ratepayer would agree that those whose overtime was legal and can be validated should be paid. However, one asks whether the mayor is saying this to cover the “overtime” worked by bodyguards belonging to her office and that of her deputy? Stern action must be considered for the errant managers who sanctioned overtime without scrutinising it and this must not exclude dismissal. Similarly, the municipal manager and the chief financial officer must go, for they sat back and watched the kitty dry up.

Miller makes an excellent suggestion, which all ratepayer associations and community-based forums must begin to negotiate, which is the need to unite and tackle the inefficiency in the city. Political affiliation, power bases and the pre-1994 mentality must be shed, and a powerful citizenry should take to the city hall. Only a tsunami of ratepayer frustration can bring down the “spineless cowards” and “incompetent idiots”. We need a new order void of hopeless officials and a first citizen who cares for the city. The time is ripe to implement Section 139 of the Constitution. Let’s hope that the ruling party has learnt a valuable lesson from the collapse of Msunduzi: i.e. never again employ cronies.



BEING a fed-up taxpayer, I phoned the city manager’s office for some clarification on when services would resume and when the filth would be cleaned up. A municipal employee answered the phone. I asked to speak to Rob Haswell and was told he was off sick.

She asked if she could help, so I asked: “When are you people going to address the problems at hand and provide the services we taxpayers are paying for?” Her angry response was that they were not to be addressed as “you people”, and the problems were not her doing.

Well, how would you like to be addressed? Does the municipality have a certain social standing that requires specific special titles?

I think not. She then threatened to track the call. I told her not to bother as I would give her any information she wanted about myself. She ranted on and then the line went dead. I hope that all at the city hall are proud of their City of Choice that is now a City of Filth. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. Do we still have to pay for refuse not being collected while you all sit by and do nothing? It’s time taxpayers stopped paying for things they don’t receive.



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