The Witness - - OPINION -

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.

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