THE FIFTH COLUMN
Of all the visitors and residents in Cape Town, seagulls must be my least favourite. The way the feathered scum abandoned the food chain to come feed on my calamari rings – leaving cormorants, oystercatchers and penguins to pick up the slack – is just pathetic.
Having said that, the graceless birds embody a fundamental part of what it means to be Capetonian because “hard working” is not a term associated with Cape Town in the same way as, say, “overtly racist” or “ridiculously overpriced” are.
And so it was with great shock that we heard newly re-elected mayor Patricia de Lille ominously declare it was time for the City of Cape Town to “work harder” than any city has ever worked before. If her tone was anything to go by, De Lille wants Cape Town to work until all the work is done. To work until its arms come off and then make work of that. To work, in a worst case scenario, tirelessly.
To achieve this, De Lille is prepared to throw the kitchen sink at Cape Town. In a rush of blood to the head usually reserved for her smartphone-wielding provincial leader, the overexcited, possibly overworked, mayor announced four new mayoral committee members – presumably Capetonians themselves – who will concentrate their efforts on service delivery or, at the very least, simply concentrate their efforts.
The committee members will oversee previously overlooked services such as sanitation to reassure the public those things are indeed being looked at. De Lille has identified the four-member mayoral committee as “the key difference compared to the last five years”, putting them in the same league as the Fantastic Four as far as work pressure is concerned. In keeping with the spirit of the committee, the members will “sharpen the focus” on service delivery and be allowed to form their own committee to figure out exactly what that means.
De Lille cracked her whip even wider and called on whoever mans the complaints desks to “be more responsive”, which is a big ask of anyone manning a complaints desk. (I might go as far as to say it’s an impossible request and that De Lille overreached in that particular instance.) She went on to say she wants ordinary Capetonians to “complain sooner” – that’s just crazy talk.
Speaking freely, De Lille crossed the Western Cape border and claimed the Democratic Alliance “is eager to come to your cities and do the same in Nelson Mandela Bay, Tswane and Johannesburg”. That is the ambition talking – everyone knows Capetonians never leave Cape Town unless it’s to a developed-world city similar to Cape Town.
The best thing for De Lille and the DA to do at this point is to take a deep breath and settle down. It’s been a very exciting two weeks for everyone, with the possible exception of the ANC, and the last thing Cape Town needs now is for elected officials to lose their cool and start making empty promises off the cuff.
Stick to the script. Keep doing things the way you did before the elections started – which is to not do so much – until campaigning for the next elections gets under way. It’s the Capetonian way.