Metro needs strong leadership

MY wife and I were born, bred and educated in the Eastern Cape. After living in Cape Town for 15 years, we moved back to Port Elizabeth for 19 memorable years until I retired from Volkswagen SA three years ago.

We now live in Cape Town. We have been at our holiday home in Kenton-on-Sea since mid-December, enjoying some glorious weather on the Sunshine Coast!

Sketching our past is relevant to the point of my letter.

I have been reading The Herald most days in the past weeks and talking a lot to friends who live in NMB. Sadly, the many issues confronting NMB ratepayers have not changed for as long as I can remember and I doubt will change unless the voices of discontent finally take a stand and say no more!

No more will we tolerate incompetent, ill-qualified, corrupt leadership of our R9-billion metro! A R9-billion business requires astute, visionary leadership.

Leadership that develops tomorrow’s leaders. Leadership that surrounds itself with highly qualified, committed and passionate people who care about the future of the company – in this case the metro!

The ANC has to implement an urgent and inclusive turnaround strategy for the metro starting with the appointment of a highly competent chief executive, that is mayor! A mayor who has the ability, energy, vision, guts and determination to turn the NMB metro into the country’s best run metro within, say, five years.

He or she then has to surround himself/herself with a team which shares this vision – without compromise. The current and past metro leadership, with very few exceptions, are/were simply unqualified and ill equipped for the task and challenge.

Do they have a vision? I do recall some years ago mayor Nceba Faku had a 2020 vision – the merits of which one can debate, but at least there was a long term vision/plan.

Right now the sense I get is the metro bumbles from one crisis to the next with no forward thinking or momentum.

Patricia de Lille, the mayor of Cape Town, is an outstanding leader. She has vision and guts – of which you need tons to run a large metro!

She doesn’t do it alone – she has surrounded herself with an outstanding leadership team and thousands of very committed people who take pride in the role they play to make Cape Town arguably the best run metro in South Africa. Sure they make mistakes and will never keep all five million constituents happy all the time, but they work their hearts out trying!

Cape Town verges are clean and maintained, potholes are fixed, streetlights work, traffic cops are visible (Cape Town residents don’t dare drink and drive!), the environment is protected, heritage sites are fiercely protected, building rules and regulations are enforced, spatial planning is visionary and meticulous. I see only one major obstacle preventing NMB metro ticking all these boxes and more – leadership.

The ratepayers of this beautiful metro deserve better, but it won’t happen unless relentless pressure is applied through inclusive and aggressive lobby groups strongly supported, if not led, by the business sector. The time has come for a “NMB ratepayers spring”!

I would love to see the day when The Herald and national media carry headlines rating NMB the best run metro in South Africa, when the “Chirps” column in this paper is wall to wall with appreciation expressed to the metro leaders for a job well done. Hopefully in our lifetimes!

Bill Stephens, Kenton-on-Sea