Independent Online

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

Editor’s View: Potholes, not Ramaphosa’s stolen millions, will make or break elections

Companies and ordinary residents have taken it upon themselves to fix their own potholes. Even popular hardware chains sell DIY pothole kits. So, what’s government’s excuse? Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

Companies and ordinary residents have taken it upon themselves to fix their own potholes. Even popular hardware chains sell DIY pothole kits. So, what’s government’s excuse? Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 8, 2022

Share

Driving through Johannesburg a few weeks back, a colleague I was travelling with mentioned that the weeds and grass on the verges hadn’t been cut in what looked like ages.

She was also surprised to see how many potholes and broken traffic lights and light poles there were.

Story continues below Advertisement

“I really didn’t believe it when people said we Capetonians are spoilt,” she remarked.

And it’s true - we live in one of the most unequal cities in the whole entire world - but things work. It’s rare for my street lights in my leafy suburb to be out of order for more than a day. It’s even rarer for a crack in the road surface to develop into a wheel-munching pothole.

Yes, I’m fully aware that this kind of service delivery is sorely lacking in the majority of the city I call home, and I acknowledge my privilege in this regard.

But driving through Johannesburg, from Sandton to our offices in Braamfontein, the differences in the management of the cities are stark.

We started talking about how it’s the little things, the everyday inconveniences, that are closest to people’s hearts. That if the DA continue using Cape Town as a shining example of efficiency and service delivery, they may slowly start to win over more municipalities and catch the ANC slipping.

Another colleague - a young, black businessman - remarked in the office: “Nationally, I vote ANC. But where I live, I vote DA.”

Story continues below Advertisement

Why is this important? Because while the ANC - a liberation movement that led the take-down of apartheid - is worried about its factional battles, the DA - dysfunctional and schizophrenic as it is - is capitalising on voters who care more about running water, functioning street lights, and smooth road surfaces.

It doesn’t help when President Cyril Ramaphosa has millions in cash stolen from his game farm, or when fuel prices skyrocket, or when Eskom falls down, or Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula seems to spend more time curating his Twitter feed than doing any actual work.

There are macro issues that the ANC needs to worry about, sure, but if you just fix some potholes, you’d do your numbers a world of good come 2024.

Story continues below Advertisement

The governing party has been holding provincial elections for its leadership structures in preparation for its national elective conference in December 2022, and if it hopes to take the Union Buildings again two years from now, a quick win is to fix potholes.

The ANC can’t allow the DA show them up at municipal level and then stand shocked when support wanes at a national level.

At the same time, the DA also needs to decide who its voter base is, because you can’t have smooth roads, one-Stage-lower-than-national load-shedding, clean, running water and working street lights in the leafy suburbs while the majority of Cape Town’s residents are living with literal sh*t flowing through their streets.

Story continues below Advertisement

My advice to political parties? Fix the potholes. It’s a quick, easy win ahead of 2024. Jeepers, even health insurance giant Discovery is branding roads they have fixed themselves. Residents in eMdloti are fixing their collapsed roads by themselves. Hardware chain Builders sells DIY pothole repair kits, for goodness’ sake!

Mr President, you’ll have an easier time convincing South Africans to help build the economy if you just build us a literal bridge to help us get over our sh*t.

IOL

Share