Take a Break: Strike deal doesn’t cut it

2008-09-21 00:00

WE don’t know whether to laugh or cry about the amicable understanding between the Msunduzi Municipality and labour over last week’s sabotage of water and electricity supplies.

We read that both parties have agreed that they were wrong, the municipality for not listening to the workers, and the unions for doing what they did, and that no further action will be taken.

This is wonderful news, and we would like to applaud both parties for their maturity in resolving this. The only problem is we’re not talking about bickering children in kindergarten, but adult people who maliciously plotted to bring the city to its knees.

Clearly, the end justified the means, which meant that in the pursuance of their objectives, the workers — or employees of the municipality — cared not one hoot for the crippling effect on the innocent party.

Lest they think otherwise, all of business suffered, and suffered badly. As these people know only too well, power cuts do not discriminate and their actions caused great loss and inconvenience to everybody.

It would also seem that the disaffected workers conveniently forgot who ultimately pays their wages, and that the municipality is merely the payment agency.

Without rates and other service charges, including water and electricity, that is paid for by residents and business, there is no money to pay for anything, let alone salary increases.

As things stand, there is no guarantee that the city won’t have a repeat of Wednesday’s debacle.

This leaves all power consumers in a precarious position, one it cannot afford and will not tolerate. And we’re not even talking about the perceptions it creates about the province’s capital city.

It is for this reason that the touchy-feely “understanding” doesn’t cut it, and we insist on a better explanation. We wouldn’t want to prescribe to the powers that be, and we believe they know best how to address the very real concerns of its customers. They owe it to the city.

Seeking light

THE power sabotage had a deeply metaphoric, if unintended, meaning at the pre-emptive launch of Gateway’s tourism programme.

Based on the deeply evocative history of the city’s old prison in Burger Street, the programme’s theme of “moving from darkness into the light” is appropriate. On Wednesday it had a deeper, more literal, meaning when the good people of Gateway overcame the darkness to outline a wonderful value-adding project to the city’s tourism product.

Keen to sort out any teething problems ahead of the launch, Gateway is working hard at refining its considerable offering. We don’t want to spoil the surprise and suggest people either steal a sneak preview of what’s ahead, or take a stroll through the complex to absorb its energy. Check it out.

Pondoland reprieve?

COULD it be that justice is prevailing and that the Australian-led titanium mining project at Xolobeni on the Wild Coast will be shelved?

Notice to this effect surfaced when Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica admitted for the first time last week that the consultation process into the planned multi-billion rand project was “flawed”.

Her comments follow a heated meeting at Xolobeni, where AmaMpondo King Mpondomini Sigcau, through his lawyer, demanded that the mining licence be withdrawn and that a proper investigation into the project be conducted.

The regent made it clear that tourism is preferred over mining, prompting Sonjica to concede that “no proper procedures were taken”.

“Now I know things I did not know; something is not right, and I have to correct it,” she said.

The minister’s admission suggests that something is very wrong with the information flow to her department, and that Mineral Resources Commodities and its BEE partner, Xolobeni Empowerment Company, have plenty to answer for.

The truth is probably contained in the sentiments of the king who has been opposed to the project from the start: “The people who would benefit were politicians.”

Last word

“RESPONSIBILITY does not only lie with the leaders of our countries, or those that have been appointed or elected to do a particular job. It lies with each of us individually.”

— His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

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