Vlad the Impaler hated disloyalty, theft, laziness and corruption.
After his coronation, he impaled many of the nobles and boyars (land owners) who had betrayed his father, used the remainder as labour to build a fortress, then invited all the beggars and pickpockets to a feast. He came by, saw to it that they were having a good time, then ordered his guards to burn down the building.
After that, it became clear to everyone that lying and stealing only led to a short and extremely painful existence as a human lollipop on a wooden stake, and honesty prevailed for the duration of his reign.
Because this is the 21st century, the ANC can’t impale those responsible for Port Elizabeth’s political and administrative “challenges”, but as we’ve seen, it can form a task team to sort things out. The process will be complicated since many of this city’s problems stem from ANC’s cadre deployment policy.
The party finds itself in the unenviable position of having to get rid of troublesome political deployees without crippling the city’s service delivery capabilities – an imperfect process which very likely won’t be able to clear out all the rotten apples and avoid destroying the rest along with the barrel. Next, they reckon to charm disenchanted voters with a “Gogo, we are sorry” campaign, as if that’s going to matter to those who feel let down.
Right now, the ANC has to choose between giving people what they want and what they need.
Wants seem easy: free houses, free electricity, free water, free wi-fi and so on – well, free as long as overburdened ratepayers keep paying and non-payers keep benefiting, that is.
But needs are something else. What Port Elizabeth needs is a functional integrated transport system, stable electricity supply to manufacturers, an efficient city administration, lower rates and less red tape for businesses, no more political interference in city administration processes, no corruption in tenders, an end to municipal employees doing business with the municipality, a visibly working traffic department, libraries that are open and librarians who are happy to work in them, an efficient municipal debt collection system, an end to illegal electricity connections, no more fruitless and wasteful expenditure like those concerts that flopped, fast response to infrastructure breakdowns.
In short, we need the ANC to run this windy city of ours at least as well as the DA runs Cape Town.
Some 540 years after his death, many Romanians still pray for Vlad the Impaler to return, while a little more than 20 years after it took power, an increasing number of Port Elizabethans pray for ANC to go away. Unless the party finds within itself the will and ability to turn things around by next year, residents may well have their prayers answered.
M Negres, Port Elizabeth