Ed Gutsche’s letters are always interesting and provocative, and his of December 7 (“Focus on rebuilding our metro together”) is no exception. I counted three insults and five factorial errors in his note – but it is Christmas season and I will ignore them – and instead I would like to comment on his two substantive points:
? “The ANC should admit it ran the city into the ground.”
Gutsche writes his letter in an office with electricity, water, sanitation, refuse collection, tarred road access, a library and town hall up the road, beaches, parks nearby, etc. All adequate but not perfect.
Maybe he should shake his memory as to what a municipality that has been “run into the ground” really looks like: when the ANC took Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage over in 1994, municipal operational spending on “white” Port Elizabeth had been more than 10 times per capita what it had been in Ibhayi, Motherwell and Kwa-Nobuhle. And it showed.
A World Bank study (in 1993) of the state of municipal services in the coloured and black areas of the metro revealed that three out of four coloured and African households did not have adequate access to electricity in their homes, one quarter had inadequate sewerage provision and one eighth lacked adequate water provision. Three quarters of roads were gravel in the townships.
White, coloured and Asian Port Elizabeth in 1994 had 300 parks with playground equipment, 380 grassed parks, 14 swimming pools and 68 municipal sports facilities (the figures for black Port Elizabeth were 13, five, nought and six respectively). Motherwell, with more than 100 000 citizens, did not have a library.
ANC local government changed all of that. Electricity and water are now universally available, as are libraries, parks, sports facilities and, in fact, most municipal services.