The beauty of de­bate

Grocott's Mail - - MAKANA VOICES -

What­ever the prob­lems we have in Gra­ham­stown, we ought to give our­selves the metaphor­i­cal pat-on-the-back for agree­ing to de­bate.

On just this page is one of the more force­ful ar­gu­ments that has been made against the pro­posed rev­enue­gen­er­at­ing plan at the Grey Dam. There is also another let­ter, this time prais­ing black-skinned women – pre­sum­ably against the con­stant re­frain of “lighter is lekker” in the fash­ion/beauty in­dus­try.

The de­bate about the role of elected of­fi­cials and the bu­reau­cracy (not to be in­ter­preted as a neg­a­tive word) at Makana Mu­nic­i­pal­ity has been rather lively, es­pe­cially over the last few months. Sadly, we have to ac­knowl­edge that de­bate alone can­not a city fix. If those who write in th­ese pages can­not ef­fect change through the force of their ar­gu­ment, there is ob­vi­ously some­thing wrong with the na­ture of our lo­cal democ­racy. It’s not to say that those who write in Gro­cott’s Mail have a mo­nop­oly on suf­fer­ing. They are of­ten the more well-ed­u­cated and not-ex­actly poor res­i­dents of this good city. And while their pet peeves al­most al­ways cut across the racial, and es­pe­cially the class di­vide, the is­sues might not nec­es­sar­ily res­onate with those who strug­gle to have one hot meal a day.

Those peo­ple ex­ist in Gra­ham­stown too, or the soup kitchen that is run in the CBD would not be do­ing such a roar­ing trade. What is heart­en­ing is that no mat­ter how many times is­sues are raised and some­times not at­tended to, as the cat­tle-in-the-city story has been, there is al­ways some­one will­ing to bring it up again.

In a democ­racy, con­stant re­frain is a good thing be­cause it puts elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives on no­tice that they are be­ing watched. It also pre­sents a record against which per­for­mance can be mea­sured, for ex­am­ple dur­ing elec­tions. What would have been re­ally ex­cit­ing is to have of­fi­cials of Makana Mu­nic­i­pal­ity join­ing the ser­vice-de­liv­ery de­bates. They for ex­am­ple did not pay Eskom all its money.

There are rea­sons, some jus­ti­fi­able, that might be known to the gen­eral pub­lic, that could en­rich our de­bates, and make Gro­cott’s Mail an even more in­clu­sive news­pa­per. The al­ter­na­tive is not that good, be­cause for bet­ter or worse, the town’s nice lit­tle pa­per, which is al­most 150 years old, is seen by some as be­ing a mouth­piece for a vo­cal mi­nor­ity in Gra­ham­stown. This is not the case.

Also in th­ese pages is the won­der­ful story of PG Glass, a lo­cal busi­ness that has been go­ing for 20 years now. The own­ers say they are most proud of the fact that they've been able to give back to the com­mu­nity, and reg­u­lar Gro­cott's Mail read­ers can at­test to that.

Here is a salute to PG Glass - and to other busi­nesses that col­lec­tively help keep our lit­tle city alive.

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