Hold the celebrations

2008-05-24 00:00

The suggestion that the Msunduzi Municipality should become a metro was first put forward in the nineties, so Thursday’s announcement by the chairman of the Municipal Demarcation Board that this is finally to happen was welcomed with excitement by council’s executive committee (Exco). Exco anticipates a substantial boost to the city coffers from the national government and says Pietermaritzburg will be known worldwide as one of South Africa’s nine major cities, a valuable branding and marketing tool.

Other questions asked by the public may be more embarrassing. For example, Exco is gloating over the expected injection of funds from the government, forgetting that the municipality is already unable to spend its existing budget. Is it equipped to manage and spend wisely funds concomitant with metro status? Another point is that, as the eThekwini Metro has amply demonstrated, that status demands high standards of performance from councillors and other officials: they carry a heavy burden of responsibility. Will those in Pietermaritzburg be able to rise above their variously sectarian differences to work together as one on the important plans and decisions that drive a metro-sized city? Shall we see an end to the miserable squabbling, backbiting and pettiness so familiar to us from reports of council meetings? Let us hope the answer to these questions is an honest “Yes”.

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