VOICE OF REASON
WEEK in, week out, residents of Pietermaritzburg have to endure a blizzard of errors emanating from City Hall, and when they seek clarification and redress they have to trudge through a quagmire of obfuscation and lies.
But an extraordinary thing happened this week. Out of the silence and murk at the heart of the city emerged that rarest of things, a voice, and not only a voice, but a voice of reason, and saying something unheard of in these parts since anything last worked. It said, we’ve made a mess of the billing system. Now how hard was it to say what everyone knew?
All hail the acting chief financial officer, Dudu Ndlovu-Gambu, who in a candid presentation to council displayed all the qualities of leadership that so eluded the disaster of a municipal manager who has been sent to the dunce’s corner to calculate his golden handshake.
Ndlovu-Gambu acknowledged that, frankly, residents are getting short shrift when they go to complain about being over-billed, not billed, disconnected, among a litany of other complaints printed daily in The Witness. If these things are not sorted out, she pointed out, no one is going to be able to pay their dues, even with the best intentions in the world.
There is a daunting task ahead. One element alone, the updating of the names of owners of properties which have been transferred, will have to wipe out a two-year backlog. The extent of this bungling is mind-boggling, and the damage to the municipality in uncollected revenue is incalculable. It may be a small gesture, but the announcement that the City is to open a payment office at the Liberty Midlands Mall to ease congestion is a positive sign. There is much to do, but we hope that with the dead hand of the previous regime being loosened, it will now be done.