City of filth

2018-10-03 06:01

WHENEVER I start thinking I’m getting used to Msunduzi, something — and nothing good yet — happens to make me miss eThekwini even more.

Before someone starts accusing me of being a typical brat from the coast, let me just make it clear that I’m not talking about the beach. I’m not saying eThekwini is perfect but my issue is with the filth on the streets, the deliberate urban decay and blatant lack of enforcement of all the bylaws in Msunduzi.

This month I’ve already had two incidents where litter flew out of the window of a car I was following in the CBD. The second time it happened right in front of Msunduzi traffic officers who were driving in a lane across from me on Langalibalele Street. I expected them to pull the culprit over and reprimand her for her behaviour but they never did.

I was fortunate that on both occasions the trash did not land on my windscreen but it had me thinking about how the people of Pietermaritzburg have accepted their dirty city as part of the norm. But then someone might ask what choice do they have?

While other cities encourage people not to litter, Msunduzi doesn’t even provide enough bins for you to put your trash in. The busiest streets like Langalibalele and Church streets should have bins at at least 50-metre intervals. If not, then those that are scattered far apart should be emptied regularly. Especially since most business don’t have the wheelie bins — apparently they refused them for fear of theft.

I never thought I’d say this but I miss being stopped by the eThekwini Metro police because at least they were trying to do something, unlike their Msunduzi counterparts who do very little, if anything at all.

I know they don’t even bother with parking fines. Oh wait; there is no paid parking in Pietermaritzburg. I’m yet to be stuck in traffic because of a roadblock but then again maybe those are only reserved for the festive season, like Christmas presents.

According to the data recently released by Discovery Vitality, eThekwini has the worst drivers in the country. I can tell you now the City of Choice has the worst roads.

The neighbourhood roads are uneven because of the shoddy job done by contractors who are hired to fix them. Rumour has it that some just paint over the potholes instead of actually filling them. The main road markings in the CBD are in desperate need of a coat of paint and new reflectors are also needed. When you drive on a rainy day you have to play a guessing game of where the lines are and just hope the other drivers know what they are doing. Of late, there are also gaping trenches dug across some roads. I’m not sure whether the contractors are installing cables, but no one seems to care to patch them afterwards.

But the dirt in Msunduzi goes deeper than the trash and lawlessness on the streets. It stinks through all the corridors of the city hall.

Suspended City boss Sizwe Hadebe has been blamed for most of the rot. I guess council should be commended for finally following up on some of the allegations that have been made against him but what about his accomplices?

Hadebe rarely acted alone and he also got council resolutions for some of the things that he is now facing disciplinary action for. He also couldn’t have got the municipality to pay for his accommodation and increase his salary without someone’s approval.

Those who have seen a copy of his CV know that Hadebe is far from stupid. He is adequately qualified and one would think that he would have no reason to risk his career by following someone’s incorrect “political instruction”, but he did. On the infamous audio clip that was subject to the recent probe by an independent investigator, he referred to himself as a messenger whose role was to transmit instructions from politicians to officials.

Now what could make a multitime university graduate, with qualifications including a masters degree in engineering and an MBA, stoop so low and put his career on the line like he did?

I suppose it was easy to make him carry the blame for all that has gone wrong because he is an “accounting officer” after all, and part of his duties is to advise the council so that decisions made are in line with key legislation.

The dark cloud of his days at Gauteng’s Ekurhuleni Municipality, which followed him when he joined Msunduzi in 2016, has also not helped in making his integrity less questionable.

The opposition parties were vehemently against his secondment by MEC for Cogta Nomusa Dube-Ncube when he came in as an acting municipal manager in 2016.

When they lost the argument against the ANC caucus, the councillors had hoped that he would leave when a permanent candidate was appointed but now the City is stuck with him, unless he decides to resign like he did in Ekurhuleni. But even if he leaves, Msunduzi will continue to be held hostage by the corrupt individuals who worked side by side with him, until the council stops protecting those who have been part of the decisions that brought this city to ruin.

• Nokuthula Ntuli is a senior reporter at The Witness.

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