Letter: Break free from ‘quiet desperation’

In the 19th century naturalist and activist Henry D Thoreau said: “The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation”. How true, even today, especially in our own metro where the bulk of our people are frantically trying to survive . . . in quiet desperation!

Between Scylla and Charybdis, the devil and the deep blue sea, the dilemma facing the bulk of our electorate is: whether, on the one hand, to continue a blind allegiance to a corrupt, incestuous regime or, on the other hand, there’s the fear of the unknown when voting for change. Scared to vote for your best interests and not your misguided values, as someone recently said.

The ANC was the proud liberation party that led this country out of the dark apartheid abyss, the party of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and others who stood for high moral principles and integrity. Now it is a caricature of a once great organisation, infested with politicians and hangers-on who toady to an amoral president with the sole aim of gratifying their personal ambitions.

It is a hollow shadow of its illustrious history, hijacked by President Jacob Zuma and his lackeys. And one can understand the frustration among the people, the “quiet desperation” as Thoreau said a hundred years ago!

If our mayor and his entourage are really serious about our metro, they will put their pride in their pockets and visit Cape Town to see how a metro should be managed. Comparisons are odious, but in this case relevant.

Cape Town, as a metro, is certainly not perfect but on visiting one cannot help but notice the following:

  • The visible traffic officials ensuring an orderly flow of traffic. No speeding, no speaking on cellphones, seatbelts are worn, etc;
  • Absence of potholes and robots that work;
  • Passing through the townships there is no overt litter, and certainly no cattle and domestic animals roaming unchecked on the busy thoroughfares!
  • Clean, safe parks and ablution facilities. One can walk mostly anywhere and, in particular the city centre, without fear;
  • The tourist facilities: the Waterfront, Kirstenbosch Gardens, Table Mountain and so on are well managed and tourist orientated. The hop-on and -off bus service is a fine example of a well-managed tourist attraction, with clean and well-managed buses.

Headphones provide some 10 language translations, all under the control of friendly, efficient and articulate guides;

ý The on-going development of highly efficient bus and train services that run on time! ý Functional schools; ý While still high, the unemployment figures in Cape Town are way less on average than any other metro and one is not faced with hordes of men thronging the pavements looking for an odd job to survive.

But the most important observation is the lack of racial tension which can be palpably felt. People have a growing respect for each other and there is an obviously relaxed interaction between folk of all colours and persuasions that collectively are making it happen!

There is an indefinable sense of purpose in the demeanour of Capetonians, auguring well for a city getting to grips with its many issues and its future.

I love Port Elizabeth and its people, and want to live nowhere else than here in the friendly, windy city. Perhaps our people, too, will see how they have been taken for a ride over the past years and, at last, break free from “quiet desperation” and a party that has lost its morals and its soul, and vote for change!

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