The Lille city that could

THE FIFTH COLUMN

As I write this, Cape Town has run out of mayors for a full nine days. It’s odd, yes, and also unprecedented — by all indications the first modern city in history to do so.

Running out of mayors hasn’t been pandemonium, as everyone expected. To be honest with you, I didn’t even notice it at first. The changes I did notice recently turned out to be the first winter chill setting in and a sudden absence of talk about water.

Of course, life without mayors affects everyone differently. For those dealing with mayors every day, access is vitally important. In the corridors of power, the lack of a mayor disrupts the natural flow — a phenomenon the average person doesn’t really notice in the corridors of no power where we reside.

But we read the newspapers and we see the people who are supposed to give us mayors shout and scream and we wonder: How did it get to the point where we’ve run out of mayors?

Not too long ago, we had mayors aplenty quietly going about their business doing what mayors do, whatever that is.

Yes, it may be true, in hindsight, that we took our mayors for granted when we had them.

If, perhaps, we used our mayors better we would not have run out of them.

If we had made giant billboards pleading with everyone to “Save the mayor”, that “This is a mayor-scarce area”, that “Every little mayor counts” — maybe then we would still have a mayor.

But as I say that, I recoil.

Is it up to us to dote on the mayor? Why should we suffer when the mayor gets into a scrap? Can’t the mayor and the people around the mayor just grow up?

But we’re not suffering. No, we’re soldiering on. We’re the Lille city that could — and can.

For the past nine days we’ve woken up every morning mayorless and simply got on with it. In certain regards, it has even been better now without a mayor.

Gone are the days when we were definitely, and most absolutely, going to run out of water while the mayor was in office. Time is ours again. As the mayor saga drags on, it becomes less appealing — to me at least — to read the news.

As the shares of the mayor articles dwindle, I find myself going outside more to take in the sights and sounds of a city apparently operating without a leader at the helm.

And, oh, is it a magnificent sight: people in buses and cars heading to work along highways (slow-moving, yes, but moving nonetheless) to earn a living.

Mothers taking children to schools with roofs and books and all sorts of things.

Tourists visiting attractions in droves; up and down the cable car they go — gawking, oohing and aahing at one of the most magnificent cities in the world, thriving with no governance to speak of.

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertisting

‘My biggest fear was getting the virus and dying in...

South African Wuhan evacuee speaks about his nine-week ordeal

Border walls don’t stop viruses, but a blanket amnesty might

Why South Africa should consider amnesty for undocumented migrants in the time of the coronavirus outbreak.

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories