I think I’ve told you our newsroom joke. Every time I leave the office, the best stories break. It always happens. I miss out on all the excitement and buzz and come back to work thoroughly fed-up.Last weekend we headed for the hills for an extended long weekend. And as usual, that’s when it all happened — the “intervention” as they call it, at Msunduzi. Many of you will know how much I’ve wanted to see meaningful change at City Hall. I’ve written about it often enough. I’ve shown you the best of my ranting, and some of the worst. And let’s be clear, I’m not talking a change in political parties. My particular passion for it harkens back to the days when I covered council as a reporter and saw what could be achieved under a dedicated ANC mayor and municipal manager who cared enough to work together to sort the city out and keep it that way.While I blame all the councillors and officials who allowed the current rot to spread on their watch, I lay ultimate blame on our MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs. Nomusa Dube-Ncube was aware of the state of affairs in our beloved city, which has taken years to sink to these levels.When we and others begged her to take action, we were mostly told there are investigations, probes and meetings under way, all very secretive and sensitive. Which of them actually took decisive action? Which resulted in dismissals for jobs not done? Which held people accountable?She’s proven that she’s deft at delay tactics and denials. She played us all this way and that. She herself watched this farce unfold, but it seems there are none so blind as they who will not see. Why did she look away? Why did she make countless excuses for the nonsense going on? Why did she let us slide into a state of dismal dysfunction? Why did she ignore the pleas of all of us from across the political spectrum, including the ANC, asking that something be done to fix the rot?Now, mere weeks before elections and with the city way past the brink of functionality, she swoops in like a superhero with a cape, to “intervene”.Must we applaud? Should we be grateful? Would she like to see glittering commentaries and sterling praise pieces written about how happy we are? That’s not going to happen. We who love our Pietermaritzburg are not stupid. We recognise her as a traitor to the city itself and to every last person who pays for rates and services here.But having made her sweeping new promises, she must now deliver. How will she turn things around when they are so completely broken?To use another proverb, a stitch in time, MEC, saves nine. You could have saved the City and its ratepayers millions of rands, if not billions, by stepping in when things started to go south. It’s not like you were unaware of the general degradation. We wrote about it. We spoke about it. We told you. But you let it happen. On your watch.So I now present a suggestion for Zweli Mkhize, the minister of Cogta in our national government. This is what I want to say to him: Let’s also not pretend you didn’t know how bad things were — you live here! I’ve written that before. But to help sort things out in KZN once and for all, it’s time you put our provincial Cogta under administration. Let someone who genuinely cares for the people of this province take charge, and let them show the department how to fulfil its role, which is essentially to look after the local municipalities on its turf.How’s this for motivation: we have had a slew of KZN municipalities show they are unable to cope with the challenges of running their towns. There’s Mpofana, Richmond, Nkosi Langalibalele, Abaqulusi, Mtubatuba, Endumeni and now Msunduzi. Surely that’s evidence enough that they are not getting the oversight or support they need to keep functioning properly. Who’s to blame? Who is mentoring and guiding them? What remains to be seen now, is how those who have committed the “malfeasance” at Msunduzi and Cogta will be dealt with. According to an online source, this fashionable buzzword is defined as intentional conduct that is wrongful or unlawful, especially by officials or public employees. Dube-Ncube insists in her speech about the “intervention” — a sweet and gentle word — that Cogta does not want to “point fingers and penalise, because we love and respect our capital city”.But if she won’t reprimand or punish people, how will we achieve accountability? Maybe that’s the problem. Cogta too is afraid of accountability. Come on MEC. Please have the guts to finally lay down the law, and mean it. Get errant officials and councillors booted out and work for the residents instead of the factions. Or vacate your post and let someone else do it. We’re tired of promises. And Minister Mkhize, if she won’t do that, it will be up to you to hold her and her department to account. Are you up for that? Is proper accountability a thing you subscribe to? Let’s see.