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Letters Newspapers   2012

ZUMA’S REMARKS ON CULTURE REFLECT GREAT IGNORANCE                    posted Dec 28, 2012

 

By his remark  that ‘black people should stop adopting the habits of other cultures’ (Mercury, December 27)

President Jacob Zuma displays great ignorance of the historically universal process of cultural enrichment.

 

Every field of human endeavour, from food, language and the arts, to architecture, the sciences and agriculture,

reflects the effects of cross-cultural input and exchange. Where would so-called western culture be without the

‘Arabic’ numerals introduced by the Mahomedans and their contribution to medicine and mathematics? The richness

of the English language is a reflection of the many words and expressions that have been incorporated from other

languages and cultures.

 

Just where Africans would be were it not for the ways and habits of other cultures which they have adopted, of their own accord,

may be gauged from a remark by Dr Andrew Smith in a letter to Cape Governor Sir Lowry Cole, dated 26 May

1829. Smith explored the eastern part of South Africa, particularly Natal, where he visited Dingane. He noted: ‘ The

whole of its inhabitants are ..... incessant sufferers of oppression, famine and ill-directed power, (their) lands nothing

better than wastes over which the influence of art has hitherto exercised no sway... its natural productions..... existing

for the limited purposes to which such are applied by uncivilised nations’ (p. 244, Andrew Smith and Natal, ed. by PR Kirby,

Cape Town, 1955).

 

PORT PROTEST SENTIMENTS NOTED IN DA SUBMISSION            posted December 12, 2012

 

The Caucus of the Democratic Alliance in Ethekwini Muncipality has noted the sentiments of those who are protesting the proposed back-of-port plans

and wishes to place on record that its submission on the issue has taken those sentiments into account.

 

As regards Clairwood and the Link Road, the DA stated the following in its submission which was made before the November 21 deadline:

 

1] CLAIRWOOD:

The Democratic Alliance is opposed to the proposal that this suburb should become a logistics hub. Constitutionally, no community can simply be consigned to extinction. Regardless of the extent to which the lack of town-planning enforcement has resulted in neglect of the residential component of Clairwood, the history and heritage of that community deserves the right to preservation. Accordingly, the DA proposes that the residential component, as defined by Sastri, Sir Kirmu Reddi, Flower and Sirdar Roads be ring-fenced and rid of trucking and other non-residential elements which have infiltrated that area. The DA believes that such a commitment would rejuvenate and revive the Clairwood community whose roots extend back a century.

2] LINK ROAD

Whilst the DA welcomes the concept of the link road as a dedicated carriageway for trucks from the Bayhead to the ring-road, it has serious concerns about the effects this roadway will have on existing businesses. Specifically, the DA is concerned that the Fresh Produce Market and the Clairwood Housewives Market may be demolished in order to make way for the link road. The livelihoods of more than 600 people would be affected in that particular instance. Relocation is not a simple option for the owners of those businesses or their employees. To relocate the investments they have made in plant and material would be prohibitively expensive.

Therefore, the DA proposes: [1] that the link road be routed around the Flower Rd Market and its ancillary business hub, the Clairwood Housewives Market ; [2] that if re-routing is not possible, then commensurate compensation for those businesses and others similarly affected, must be factored into the costs of the proposed link road.

 

 

MALAISE IN ETHEKWINI COUNCIL                posted Sept 28

 

In his historic address to the eThekwini Council on September 19, King Goodwill Zwelithini

reproached the ANC-led Council for arrogance and smugness which, he pointed out, was

inhibiting service delivery.

 

But his words have fallen on deaf ears as the following events at the Council meeting held on

September 26 demonstrated:

* The willful vindictiveness of Cllr Mapena who refused to provide the answer

to a question which had been tabled unless he could do so in Sotho;

* Cllr Gaillard’s unparliamentary threat to inflict physical violence on Cllr MacPherson in the

car park;

* The ANC’s insistence that the cases of councillors exposed for illegally doing business with

the Council should, for accounting purposes, be ‘regularised’;

* The ANC’s spiteful rejection of two DA notices of motion on precisely the issue the King is

concerned about, namely, service delivery.

 

Central to this state of malaise is the conspicuous absence of leadership within the ANC. From

one Council meeting to the next it is apparent that the Speaker, Cllr Logie Naidoo, is unable and

unwilling to rein in rogue elements in his caucus like Cllr Mapena and others who then exploit

the leadership void with impunity.

 

Equally disappointing is the role of mayor James Nxumalo whose silence can only be interpreted

as condoning the vindictive and often disruptive antics of his comrades.

 

Co-operative governance in eThekwini municipality is floundering for precisely the reasons King

Goodwill identified: greed, arrogance and indifference.

 

 

 

PREJUDICE MARRING BACK OF  PORT DEBATE        posted 11 September 2012

 

The views expressed by Alice Thomson and Vanessa Black of EarthLife (Mercury, 4 September)

exemplify the prejudice which has marred the back-of-port debate to date.

 

At the outset they question the wisdom of embarking on a costly exercise in the expansion of

shipping and freight facilities when the world’s economy appears to be ‘chaotic,’ as they put it.

History has the answer to their fears and forebodings. First of all, boom and bust cycles are a

reality of world trade, going back to the South Sea bubble of 1720. Despite the prostrate state

of the world economy in 1933 when a quarter of  Americans were unemployed, President Roosevelt

initiated a multi-billion dollar spending programme (the New Deal) to re-start the US economy.

The Marshall Plan revitalised Europe’s shattered economy to the tune of $19 billion after WWII.

 

If Durban is to remain South Africa’s leading port and Africa’s second busiest after Port Said, it has

to expand. The widening of the harbour mouth was already a step in that direction. Currently the

livelihoods of at least 30,000 people in Durban are directly or indirectly dependent on the port.

Stagnation is not an option. That figure needs to grow or else Durban will face increasing competition

from Richards Bay and Maputo. Historically, Durban has always been a forwarding agency because

of its geographical  proximity to the Witwatersrand.

 

One of the functions of the proposed dig-out port on the site of the old airport is the consolidation

of the petro-chemical farm there. Currently it is based in the Cutler complex at Island View.

Such a development would greatly reduce the threat of pollution and gas emissions which trouble

the Fynnland area of the Bluff. And in time it would mean that the network of fuel pipes, which traverse

Merewent and the Bluff via Tara, Lighthouse and Island Views Rds, would no longer be necessary.

 

Whilst the position of the residential component of Clairwood needs qualification, the claim that

the back-of-port developments ‘will destroy neighbourhoods’ is devoid of truth. The proposed link

road, which is a trucks-only dedicated carriageway, is planned to skirt around Clairwood, go through

the Umhlatuzana valley to Coedmore quarry where it would split north/south. No neighbourhoods are

threatened by this route, especially not Wentworth as Thomson and Black aver. On the contrary, the

link road will remove container trucks from Edwin Swales VC Dve and South Coast Rd. That is a huge

plus for Bluff residents and those of Umbilo, Rossburgh and,hopefully, Clairwood.

 

As regards Clairwood, the recommendation on page 164 of the so-called secret document that Clairwood

be turned into a ‘logistics hub’ is unacceptable. The residential core of that blighted suburb, namely, the

area between Flower, Sirdar, Sastri and Sir Kurma Reddi Rds, needs to be ringfenced and the trucking firms

within that area removed. As the former councillor for Clairwood, that is the view I enunciated in 2002 which

the DA still holds.

 

Climate change is not something new so the suggestion by Thomson and Black that the increased port activity will

hasten climate change not a given. Research going back more than 1,000 years indicates that weather

cycles are a reality of our planet and that the cause of these cycles is solar. Long before carbon emissions

became a topic of debate, aberrations in weather were a reality. For example, In April 1856, over a five day

period 27 inches of rain fell in the Durban area; over two days late in August 1868, over seventeen inches

fell over the Natal coast. Many bridges were swept away in the floods of 1959, 1976 and 1987.

 

To claim that insufficient consultation of communities has taken place is no fault of the municipality. To date

all their attempts at engaging communities in public meetings have had to be aborted because of the antics

of a small group of people. Those scheduled meetings were intended as a starting point and not as tick-box

exercises. I am on record as saying that I would ask for a series of meetings if I was not satisfied with the

answers to questions because it is vital to allay fears and prejudices and that emotional outpourings are no

substitute for intellectual engagement.

 

Finally, the 376 page document is merely a draft. It is not cast in stone nor are its recommendations a fait accompli.

Whilst speculation as to the fate of certain areas is a natural response, it is necessary to distinguish between

speculative outcomes and ones that result from consultation and negotiation

 

ANOTHER NAIL IN THE COFFIN OF SERVICE DELIVERY    posted August 31

 

At its meeting on August 30, the ANC-dominated eThekwini Council voted in favour of

a centralised system of problem-reporting and query resolution. In practice this will resemble

a call-centre to which councillors will be required to refer  queries and issues on

behalf of ratepayers. Moreover, it is envisaged that this call-centre will be manned by

former councillors who were unsuccessful in the 2011 elections.

 

The DA rejects this approach for the following reasons:

1] It encoaches on the independence and enterprise of individual councillors in expediting answers

    to queries and solutions to problems;

2] It adds yet another layer of unnecessary bureaucracy to the already bloated Council organogram

     and, as such, demonstrates that Parkinson’s law is thriving in the eThekwini municipality;

3] Subjecting individual councillor efforts on behalf of ratepayers to a collective, bureaucratic

    system amounts to a one-size-fits-all approach which has been proved to retard service delivery.

4] By attempting to insulate officials from councillors, who represent  the public and ratepayers,

    this system flies in the face of the fundamental tenets of governance, namely transparency and

    accountability to say nothing of the right of citizens to be able to access information without having

    to pass through a filter process requiring logging, reference numbers and ultimately the efficacy of

    an official in providing ‘feedback’ when he feels like it.

 

Already service delivery is problematic in several Council units. This system is simply going to retard

it further. As such it constitutes another nail in the coffin of service delivery .

 

 

 FURTHER CLARITY ON PORT PLANS                    posted 23 August 2012

 

The adage ‘if you can’t convince them, then confuse them, ’  sadly, seems to be in vogue as regards the proposed port development plans.

 

 

First, a clear distinction needs to be drawn between  the proposed dig-out port on the old airport site and the proposed back-of-port

expansion. They are two separate projects which are not only are not only miles apart, but they are also decades apart in terms of time frame implementation.

Work on the dig-out port is expected to commence in July 2016 whilst the envisaged southwards expansion of the existing

harbour is not scheduled until 2037.

 

Second, there is no document that is ‘under wraps.’ The 376 page report is freely available  in hardcopy and disc format. It is a transparent document

which invites engagement and discussion, not boycott and denial. Moreover, nowhere is it written that public participation will be limited to a single

meeting. Although the window of public comment has been extended to November 21, as I stated publicly on August 13, I will insist on as many

discussion meetings as are deemed necessary.

 

Third, as regards Clairwood, constitutionally, no community can simply be consigned to extinction as was the case with District 6

in Cape Town nearly 50 years ago. Concerns of heritage and history enjoy constitutional protection and the DA, as a custodian of the

constitution, is pledged to uphold the right of the residential component of Clairwood to security of tenure.

 

Fourth, the claim that thousands of people will lose their homes as a result of the port plans is utterly fallacious and deplorable. The proposed

link road from Bayhead to link up with the N2 near Coedmore quarry does not affect any existing housing. Moreover, it will be a dedicated trucks-only

route which will reconfigure the passage of trucking in the South Durban Basin. As such,  it should be warmly welcomed.

 

Fifth, the dig-out port promises to be the greatest construction venture ever undertaken in South Africa. It is vital if the Ethekwini region is to embrace

the future in which 18,000 teu container ships are the norm. In terms of logistics and economics the consequences of this project are hugely positive for

Durban and in particular the South Durban Basin. Currently over 30,000 people directly and indirectly depend on the port for their livelihoods and that

includes about 20 percent of Bluff residents.

 

 

OPPONENTS OF BACK-OF-PORT PLANS ARE UNDEMOCRATIC AND DISINGENUOUS  posted 20 August 2012

 

The Democratic Alliance regards the actions of Mr Desmond D’sa and his co-opted cohorts in

preventing Council-led information meetings from occurring in the South Durban Basin regarding

the proposed back-of-port developments, as undemocratic and a violation of stakeholders’

rights to form their own opinions as to the nature of these plans.

 

To date Mr D’Sa has succeeded in aborting meetings in Clairwood, Merewent and the Bluff. On each occasion

he has claimed that the Council is withholding a 376 page document from the public which, he alleges, contains

information which the Council does not want the public to access. He has argued that until that document is made public,

consultation is disingenuous.

 

However, the DA finds Mr D’Sa’s tactics to be thoroughly disingenuous. The 376 page document to which he refers is

available in hardcopy format at libraries whilst disc copies of it have been freely distributed to all those who have

turned up at the Council-information meetings. The document comprises of ten chapters covering all aspects

from infrastructure and traffic to social, environmental and economics. As a discussion document, it merely specifies

scenarios and possible choices. It does not prescribe or compel. It is transparent and open to scrutiny.

FURTHER CLARITY ON PORT PLANS                    posted 23 August 2012

 

The adage ‘if you can’t convince them, then confuse them, ’  sadly, seems to be in vogue as regards the proposed port development plans.

 

 

First, a clear distinction needs to be drawn between  the proposed dig-out port on the old airport site and the proposed back-of-port

expansion. They are two separate projects which are not only are not only miles apart, but they are also decades apart in terms of time frame implementation.

Work on the dig-out port is expected to commence in July 2016 whilst the envisaged southwards expansion of the existing

harbour is not scheduled until 2037.

 

Second, there is no document that is ‘under wraps.’ The 376 page report is freely available  in hardcopy and disc format. It is a transparent document

which invites engagement and discussion, not boycott and denial. Moreover, nowhere is it written that public participation will be limited to a single

meeting. Although the window of public comment has been extended to November 21, as I stated publicly on August 13, I will insist on as many

discussion meetings as are deemed necessary.

 

Third, as regards Clairwood, constitutionally, no community can simply be consigned to extinction as was the case with District 6

in Cape Town nearly 50 years ago. Concerns of heritage and history enjoy constitutional protection and the DA, as a custodian of the

constitution, is pledged to uphold the right of the residential component of Clairwood to security of tenure.

 

Fourth, the claim that thousands of people will lose their homes as a result of the port plans is utterly fallacious and deplorable. The proposed

link road from Bayhead to link up with the N2 near Coedmore quarry does not affect any existing housing. Moreover, it will be a dedicated trucks-only

route which will reconfigure the passage of trucking in the South Durban Basin. As such,  it should be warmly welcomed.

 

Fifth, the dig-out port promises to be the greatest construction venture ever undertaken in South Africa. It is vital if the Ethekwini region is to embrace

the future in which 18,000 teu container ships are the norm. In terms of logistics and economics the consequences of this project are hugely positive for

Durban and in particular the South Durban Basin. Currently over 30,000 people directly and indirectly depend on the port for their livelihoods and that

includes about 20 percent of Bluff residents.

 

The DA, therefore, rejects with contempt the assertion by one Mr Ivor Aylward, an ally of Mr D’Sa, that 30,000 people

will lose their homes if the back-of-port plans are implemented. Such an unsubstantiated  claim is  highly irresponsible.

Yet such statements from the D’Sa camp appear intended not to inform but to intimidate and create an atmosphere of mistrust.

By denying stakeholders the right to hear the other side, it would appear, the D’Sa camp is deliberately fuelling emotions in an

attempt to forge community resistance, notwithstanding the fact that the South Durban Basin urgently needs new thinking and

forward planning.

 

For the record, the DA will never support any project that results in mass social upheaval or removal.

As regards  Clairwood and the three options listed on page 164 of the document, the DA rejects the suggestion that

Clairwood be rezoned into a logistics area. The DA has always supported the right of the residential component of Clairwood

to be ringfenced and to enjoy security of tenure.

 

The DA is pleased to note that a link road system from Bayhead southwards, would be mandatory for trucks.

This road, which will skirt around Clairwood, will relieve the Bluff and Merewent areas of trucks and improve the safety and  quality of life.

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MERCURY SHOULD SUPPORT PORT PLANS   posted 20 August 2012

 

Tony Carnie’s story on the possible consequences of the back-of-port and dig-out port (Mercury, August 16),

is flawed and confused.

 

First, the proposed dig-out port on the old airport site is an entirely separate project from the proposed back-of-port

expansion. Not only are the projects miles apart, but they are also decades apart in terms of time frame implementation.

Work on the dig-out port is expected to commence in July 2016 whilst the envisaged southwards expansion of the existing

harbour is not scheduled until 2037.

 

Second, there is no document that is ‘under wraps.’ The 376 page report, which is divided into ten chapters, is available at

libraries and in disc format. It is transparent and  contains a series of scenarios. It does not compel or prescribe.

 

Third, as regards Clairwood, on page 164 of the document there are three options listed. The fact that preference is given to

Clairwood becoming a logistics hub is not something that is cast in stone. Constitutionally, no community can simply be consigned to

extinction. Since 2000, the DA has endorsed the historic right of the residential component of Clairwood to security of tenure.

 

Fourth, one of the critical aspects of the dig-out port is the inclusion of a car-loading facility. This is already earmarked to be located

at the entrance of the port. Carnie’s suggestion that Toyota is planning a 10,000-bay car facility at Camperdown simply does not square

with the facts.

 

The dig-out port promises to be the greatest construction venture ever undertaken in South Africa. It is vital if Durban is to embrace

the future in which 18,000 teu container ships are the norm. In terms of logistics and economics the consequences of this project

are hugely positive for Durban and in particular the South Durban Basin. Historically the Mercury has always endorsed projects

which add economic value to the province. As early as 1866, it endorsed a plan by Royal engineers to link Isipingo with Durban bay by canal

so as to afford sugar planters easier access to shipping at the Point (see: Natal Mercury, 30 October 1866).

 

 

 

PARKINSON’S LAW THRIVING IN ETHEKWINI                posted 6 August

 

The decision by City Manager, Sibusiso Sithole, to add a layer of eight new posts to the already bloated top

structure of the Ethekwini Municipality provides proof that Parkinson’s law is thriving in Durban.

 

In the late 1950s Professor Northcote Parkinson posited a theory that bureaucracy begets bureaucracy.

Based on studies of the British Colonial and Civil Service, he found the following:

1] that there was little or no relationship between work to be done and the size of the staff;

2] officials are prone to multiplying the number of subordinates;

3] officials make work for each other.

Specifically he noted that the increase in administrative staff tended to be double that of the

technical staff and that in time such organisations were beset by paralysis.

 

This is exactly what is happening in the Ethekwini Metro. Whilst a shortage of technical staff is

frustrating operational efficacy, the administrative component continues to mushroom is size.

In turn, each of the top new posts Sithole intends creating will require all the accoutrements of high

office and the staff component which goes with such appointments.

 

When the unicity model was put forward in 2000, it was stated that the consolidation of more than

ten local municipalities into a single  Metropolitan administration would reduce the duplication of

services and prove cost effective. Yet in ten years while the Ethekwini metro staff has grown from

16,000 to over 23,000, costs have become almost prohibitive and service delivery ranges from patchy

to pathetic. This is the classic manifestation of Parkinson’s law.

 

RATEPAYERS URGED TO DEMAND THE RELEASE OF THE MANASE REPORT            posted August 6

IN February the MEC in charge of Local Government, Nomusa Dube, gave the Ethekwini

Municipality three months to act on the findings of the Manase inquiry into the functioning

of its administration. Six months later councillors and ratepayers remain in the dark as to

the contents of the Report a synopsis of which has alleged high level corruption and fraud.

 

We repeatedly hear of the commitment by those in power  to root out corruption, yet when

an inquiry into  corrupt practices is produced, those same people perform an egg dance in

attempting to explain why the report can’t be released.  In June the City Manager, Sibusiso

Sithole, promised the Manase Report would be released in July. But now he has done a political

U-turn and claims that it is not opportune to release it.

 

This is outrageous. Mr Sithole needs to be reminded that he is the servant of the ratepayers

whose money paid for the Manase inquiry in the first place and who are being shortchanged

each day that the facts on corruption and fraud are kept from exposure. If disclosing the names

of whistle-blowers whose details are said to be listed in the annexures of the Report is what

is holding up the release, then common sense dictates that the Report is released without

the annexures.

 

I urge ratepayers to inundate City Manager Sithole with demands for the immediate release

of the Manase Report. The time to restore government to the ratepayers, by the ratepayers and for the

ratepayers is overdue.

Sithole’s email address is: sitholesbu@durban.gov.za

His office phone number is 031 311 2132

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MAX DU PREEZ DOES NOT UNDERSTAND THE HISTORIAN’S TASK    - posted July 23, 2012

 

In another of his characteristically jaundiced columns (Mercury, July 17), Max du Preez condemns what he

calls attempts to revise the history of the apartheid era. However, in so doing  he displays a basic lack of

understanding of the task of historians.

 

The primary functions of historians are to assemble records of the past and to place interpretations on them.

It is in the latter role that differences arise for they are the product of generation, ideology and culture. As a

result there is no such thing as stasis in history or an ultimate history. Instead interpretations are mutant.

 

Whilst there are numerous instances of that reality, a particular local  one serves as a good example.

Histories written of the Anglo-Zulu war during the colonial era universally condemned what was termed

Zulu aggression and glorified British imperialism. A century later, a study of the same event by Jeff Guy

was  highly sympathetic towards the Zulu and indicted the British for deliberately seeking confrontation

with the Zulu king Cetewayo.

 

History, therefore, is dynamic. It is about change, contrast, context and comparison.

For Max du Preez to label as ‘apologists’ historians who are reviewing the apartheid era and to claim that they

have an agenda to ‘deodorise the nasty smell of apartheid’ is an unqualified, sweeping statement which,

academically, seriously lacks credibility.

 

Applying the logic of du Preez’s thinking, everything which preceded 1994 is evil and reprehensible. If that were

the case, all relics of that time should be torn down and Max du Preez should cease to speak his native Afrikaans

language which is entirely a product of the colonial and racist past he so abhors.

 

Whether Max du Preez likes it or not, positive references to the past he so deprecates will colour historians’

writings of the future particularly as the ANC seems intent on repeating the errors that have so hobbled post-colonial

Africa.

  

ANC INTERFERENCE IN SCHOOLS’ ADMISSION POLICY WILL DESTROY FUNCTIONING SCHOOLS

 

-  POSTED 20 JULY 2012

 

The ANC’s latest attempt to break what is fixed instead of fixing what is broken not only

flies in the face of logic but will result in the demise of the few functional  state schools still

in existence.

 

It is universally acknowledged that preference in admission is always given to learners who live in the

immediate vicinity of a school. If that were not the case, then all schools would be clustered

in a group rather like factories in an industrial area.

 

For the ANC to argue that so-called transformation is not taking place at the few remaining

former model-C schools is utterly false. The reality is that those schools are the only ones that are

transformed in that their student ranks reflect all races. When will the township schools reflect

a genuine demographic mix?

 

Affordability is also a critical aspect of school choice. The facilities available at  former model-C schools

are the result of the school fees  parents pay. Such fees are usually well  in excess of R1,000 per month.

If those schools are flooded with the learners  of indigent parents, within a year the quality of education on

offer will cease as the services of  the extra teachers paid from governing body funds become unaffordable.

 

Is that what the ANC wants – a new batch of dysfunctional schools?

As things stand, many former model-C schools are barely coping on the fees they receive from a

declining corps of parents who are able to pay up in full. By  insisting that those schools must accept

all comers, all the ANC will achieve will be to hasten the tipping point of financial collapse, sadly, something at which

it has proved quite talented.

 

 

 

DIG-OUT PORT WILL BE LARGEST PROJECT IN SA    posted June 23, 2012

 

The proposed dig-out port on the old airport site will be the largest project ever undertaken

in South Africa. This was disclosed to councillors from the South Durban Basin during a briefing

by the programme director of Transnet’s planning division, Marc Descoins, on Thursday, June 21.

 

Work on the multi-billion Rand project is expected to commence in July 2016 with the first

phase of the project completed by 2019. Development of the project is to be over a 30 year period.

 

The construction phase will provide an estimated 64,000 jobs. It is expected that 25,000

permanent jobs will be generated by the port once it is functioning.

 

The scale and details of the project are staggering. The port will involve liquid fuel, automotive

and container cargoes. The siting of the entrance to the port will require the relocation of the

single buoy mooring. The construction of the southern breakwater alone will absorb 16% of the

total cost and will require special sources of quarry stone.

 

Environmental concerns are being taken very seriously. For example R85 million has been budgeted  to

relocate some 2,000 chamelions which inhabit a part of the northern section of the airport site. A

unique species of frog will be similarly  cared for and Mr Descoins has specified that the mangroves will not be violated.

 

Of particular significance is that without the dig-out port, Durban will stagnate as a port of call and experience decline.

Already Cape Town does not have the capacity or berths that are deep enough to handle the new generation of 18,000

TEU ships that are due soon. Durban’s proximity to the Witwatersrand makes it the logical and preferred destination

for container shipping. Studies have shown that the old airport site is ideal for the construction of a new

harbour designed specifically to  manage the size and volume of container shipping. Moreover, Durban’s

geographical location in the southern hemisphere is particularly advantageous as regards intercontinental shipments

from the east to South America and beyond to the north Atlantic.

 

Consultation with the surrounding communities is a priority for Transnet so as to ensure a spirit of mutual benefit and

co-operation. Engagement with private property owners whose properties are vulnerable to the proposed development

will begin next month.

 

WOULD DR AB XUMA SUPPORT THE ANC TODAY?                       posted June 10

 

 

Although current ANC leaders make routine references to the legacies of their previous leaders,

the 2012 publication of the Autobiography and Selected Works of Dr AB Xuma, president and reformer of the ANC

in the 1940s, contains insights which suggest that he would have difficulty in supporting the ANC as it

operates today.

 

On financial temptation Xuma told the conference of ‘Non-European’ trade unions in Bloemfontein on August 4, 1945:

‘In your struggle you will have financial problems to face. There will be temptation for you and the weak-minded and

weak of character will succumb......Any one of us who permits money influence or power to divide our strength are

traitors to our cause and joint oppressors.....’ (p. 228-229).

 

On the subject of leadership, Dr Xuma addressed these words to the ANC’s 1956 conference in a letter dated 28 January:

‘Leadership means service for and not domination over others. True and genuine leaders serve the cause of the people

and do not expect the cause to serve them or become a source of profit for them’ (p.116).

 

Some six years ago or so, Smuts Ngonyama, then of the ANC, famously stated that he did not join the struggle to remain poor.

Every day there are reports of corruption, nepotism and cronyism on the part of ANC members and leaders – both

in government and in the private sector. Whole provinces like Limpopo have been looted and reduced to dysfunctionalism.

ANC mismanagement bankrupted Pietermaritzburg. As the ANC celebrates its centenary it needs to reflect seriously on the

principles and ethics of its founders.

.

A DISTURBING BUDGET                                    posted June 1

 

A budget is a showcase of governance which, in turn, concerns the implementation of funding.

As the Manase Report appears to indicate, there are serious deficiencies in governance

within Ethekwini municipality and for such reasons the DA has opposed the 2012/13 Budget.

 

The Operating Budget is creaking under the weight of a ballooning employee corps. It is up from 16,000 less than eight years ago

to almost 24,000. The ‘jobs for pals’ syndrome is thriving. Yet outside of that there is an army  of contractors all benefiting from

ratepayers’ funds. The most glaring of these are the 409 contractors who are listed as removing refuse from informal settlements

and whose remuneration, astonishingly,  is costing over R280 million.

 

Yet while funds are being spent in what seems to be  cavalier fashion, the Capital Budget is small and stagnating, rising only from

R5,228  to R5,596 billion in 2015. That means playing infrastructure catch-up in years to come when COL and inflation is exponentially

higher. Meanwhile borrowings, which are premised on a stagnant rates base, are sitting within two percent of the maximum margin permitted.

Servicing those loans is costing R600 million per annum.

 

In 2006 the then DA Caucus leader, Councillor John Steenhuizen, rejected the Budget  on the grounds of lack of proper process [public hearings fiasco]

no competitive outsourcing, racially skewed procurement procedures, top-heavy organisational structure, dysfunctional departments  like Metro Police

and Parks. He concluded his Budget address with these words:

 ‘The reality is this Budget holds the promise to ratepayers of nothing more than more of the same slipping standards, paltry policing, mediocre maintenance,

  contracts for cronies and ripped-off ratepayers.’

 

In 2012 things are no different. Indeed they are more expensive. And the expenditure continues to mount despite the very narrow rates base, growing only

at one percent per annum, and the lack of business incentives to attract investment.

 

The ANC crows about the 2012/13 Ethekwini budget as being another victory for the poor. But the only part that benefits the poor is the ANC’s last minute loss

of political will to obligate those with properties rated at less than R185,000 to contribute R20 per month in rates. The trouble with socialism, as Margaret

Thatcher once pointed out, is that  ‘eventually you run out of other people’s money.’ For Durban’s sake, that is the historical lesson the ANC needs to learn, urgently.

 

  

ZUMA IS REAPING WHAT HE HAS SOWN                posted  May 23

 

Heads of state are expected to conform to norms that are respectable and worthy of emulation.

 

One of the reasons attributed to Nicholas Sarkozy’s defeat in the recent French presidential election

was public disdain for his arrogant and extravagant lifestyle. In contrast and as a consequence, the

newly elected Francois Hollande has been termed ‘President normal.’

 

For Jacob Zuma to attempt to claim moral indignation on the grounds that the painting The Spear makes

a mockery of his office is as ludicrous as it is ironic. For Zuma is simply reaping what he has sown as a

public figure.

 

Relevant quote:  ‘The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.’   Margaret Thatcher.

 

FACTS ON TRAFFIC SIGNALS:            posted May 4, 2012

 

A report to the Social Services Committee on May 2 provided the following facts concerning traffic signals:

 

1] There are 800 signalised intersections in Ethekwini Municipality;

2] Each month 1,400 of the robot light bulbs have to be replaced;

3] On any given day 10-15 signals are not operating; that means 98% of traffic lights are in operation.

4] Vandalism is the biggest cause of non-operation of traffic signals;

5] Each month 30-40 traffic signal poles are knocked down by motorists;

6] Control boxes: re-installation takes 3-5 days and costs R75,000 per box. In 2009, thirty control boxes were damaged.

7] Conversion to LED bulbs will increase life from 4 months to five years.

8] At its April meeting, the Council approved a pilot project (put forward by the DA) for solar-powered traffic signals. 

ANC IS CONDOMISING CORRUPTION                posted April 28

 

By condoning the blatant violation of the Councillors Code of Conduct Ethekwini mayor, James Nxumalo, has shown that when it comes tofighting corruption he has feet of clay (Daily News, April 27).

There can be no excuse for ANC Executive Committee member and chief whip, Stanley Xulu, claiming ignorance of the law in respect of councillors doing business with the municipality. By defending the indefensible, mayor Nxumalo has shown that his rhetoric on corruption is devoid of credibility. The fact that Xulu benefited from municipal tenders worth over R8,5 million cannot be written off as a ‘mistake.’  

Mayor Nxumalo is making a mockery of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct by allowing Xulu to continue in office and to forfeit only a year’s salary based on the 2009/2010 remuneration levels. There can only be one verdict for Xulu and it is his immediate resignation from the Council and a hefty fine based on his illegal gains.  

By shielding the likes of Xulu from the proper consequences of his disgraceful conduct, the message that is being propagated is that, barring a slap on the wrist, it is acceptable to violate the ethics of public service even when it runs into millions. Put bluntly, it amounts to condomising corruption.

From this one can appreciate why it is said that corruption is not an aberration of government in Third World countries. It is the norm.

 

FAST FACTS ON DURBAN HARBOUR:        posted April 4  [Source : 2102 Estuarine study by Nicolette Forbes]

 #  In 2008/09, 4,554 ships called at Durban – 38% of all ships that called at SA ports.

 # Those ships handled 31,4 million tons of freight worth R50 billion.

 # The value of that cargo accounts for 62% of all the cargo handled by SA ports.

 # Durban handles 61% of South Africa’s container traffic.

 # DURBAN IS THE LEADING CONTAINER PORT IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE.

 # The Ethekwini area accounts for 60% of the economic activity of KZN.

 # More than 30,000 people directly and indirectly depend on Durban harbour for their  livelihoods.

FACTS ON FREIGHT AND SHIPPING: DIG-OUT PORT AN UNQUESTIONABLE NECESSITY

posted March 30, 2012.

 A study on the state of the economy of Durban released on March 29 by the Treasury Dept of Ethekwini Metro contains significant facts about freight movements and shipping. These include: 

# A doubling in freight volumes in the next 10 years;

# R1,6 billion to be spent on deepening seven of the 15 berths at Maydon Wharf;

# R50 billion to be spent by Transnet on the development of the Dig-Out port on the  former Durban International Airport site;

# The Dig-Out port will initially comprise of 16 container berths, five automotive berths  and four bulk liquid berths, creating 2,4 million TEUs of annual capacity expanding to     9,6 TEUs;

# The Dig-Out project will generate 20,000 direct jobs and 47,000 indirect jobs.

The study also notes significant increases in freight volumes over the past two years. These are: a 9% increase in containerised imports and a 6,2% increase in containerised exports. Vehicle volumes showed a 25,9% increase in exports. It is apparent from these statistics that the development of the Dig-Out port is an unquestionable necessity. Without it, by 2018 Durban port will no longer have the capacity to cope with the volumes of container freight which are steadily increasing. And without  the Dig-Out port, freight trade will go to Coega or Richards Bay dealing Durban's economy a serious blow.

.

GREAT GREENING                                sent  March 29.

Despite having hosted COP 17 and pledged to ramp up efforts to 'green' Durban, it is scandalous that only R2,7 million is being budgeted for capital expenditure and expansion of D'Moss environmental services. Yet, in contrast, more than R150 million is budgeted for the salaries and attendant costs of the staffing of environmental planning and management in 2012/2013. Great 'greening' indeed!

OUR LIMITED DEMOCRATIC ELEVATOR        sent March 22 to Mercury

 The fact that our democratic elevator stops with the regional chairman of the ANC is much more than  the 'sad reality of our politics,' as your editorial 'Save our City,' stated (March 20). It is an indicator that despite having the most liberal Constitution on the Planet, when it comes down to a fundamental such as ratepayers being the arbiters of how their rates are spent, they actually do not have the final say.

 The corollary of that reality is that the public consultation process which the Metro holds as regards Budget input, is little more than a sop to the democratic process, a tick-box exercise. Ironically, the former Durban City Council which was dis-established in 1995, whilst less representative in its decision-making, certainly had more freedom in making its decisions. Put bluntly, the local government freedoms which the Constitution bestows

VETCH’S PIER:  RELIC OF FLAWED PLANNING          by Duncan Du Bois

Vetch’s pier has redeemed itself by becoming a marine sanctuary. Historically, however, it is an expensive relic, a monument to flawed planning, poor workmanship and economic frustration.

Although potentially a major seaport, Durban’s bay was little more than an inaccessible lagoon before dredging and the construction of the north and south piers over a century ago unlocked its real worth. Nature guarded its entrance in the form of shifting sandbanks which made access to the safety of the inner harbor unpredictable and hazardous. As a result entry was restricted to small vessels drawing less than three metres of water. All other shipping had to anchor offshore and endure the extremes of wind and sea. Not surprisingly 66 ships were blown ashore on Durban’s beachfront between 1845 and 1885.

It was obvious from the outset to the British settlers that Natal’s economic prospects depended on the development of Durban harbour. For almost 50 years from 1850 the ‘harbour issue’ was the hardy annual of Natal politics and the correspondence columns of newspapers. Various plans were put forward, that of Captain James Vetch gaining the approval of Governor John Scott in 1857. Vetch, an engineer attached to the Admiralty in London, never actually visited Durban, yet he produced a report and plan to improve the harbour. Despite misgivings, it was rushed through the Natal legislature in October 1859 along with its hefty price tag -£165,000.

Vetch’s solution was to enclose the natural entrance to the harbour by means of two breakwaters, one curving northwards from the base of the Bluff headland and the other curving southwards from present day Ushaka beach. Besides the engineering challenge which that posed, Vetch’s plan ignored the prevailing wind an ocean current directions. But in August 1861 when construction of the northern breakwater commenced, such concerns were lost amidst the optimism of a growing economy and the belief that Vetch’s plan would resolve the frustrations of navigating the entrance to the harbour. A comment in the Natal Mercury on 13 July 1861 summed up the buoyant mood of colonists when it stated that Vetch’s plan would herald ‘new circumstances and be the scene of a busy, all pervading and prosperous industry.’

The site engineer, George Abernethy, encountered difficulties with Vetch’s plan from the outset. The method of construction was impractical: sections of wooden framework filled with rubble simply collapsed in the surf, moreover, the contractor, Thomas Jackson, lacked the capacity to carry out the construction. Early in 1863 it was apparent that the six year project was stalled. Yet £90,000 of the budgeted £165,000 had been spent while less than ten percent of the work had been completed.

In May 1864 a furious Natal Legislative Council demanded a detailed report on the Vetch project. In June the contractor walked off the job and left Natal. The Report tabled in August proved an embarrassing indictment. It found that no oversight had been exercised by Treasury officials on certificates for amounts payable and that the contractor had received payments in excess to that which he was entitled. It was also noted that freight for some materials had been paid for twice; that material had been ordered which was in excess of actual needs. To top it all, £113,500 or 70 percent of the allocated budget, had been spent on a project that was scarcely 20 percent complete and the problem of accessing Durban harbour was no closer to resolution.

Far from invigorating Natal’s economy, the submerged finger of an incomplete pier named after its designer, Captain Vetch, proved a drain on the colonial treasury for years to come, interest on the loan for the project amounting to about 17 percent of total revenue. A project born out of economic frustration left a legacy of even greater economic frustration.  Until the 1880s Durban harbour languished having gained a reputation as a port of high charges and long delays. But from 1886 when dredging operations began, followed by extension of the breakwaters, the depth of the entrance channel improved. By 1892 it averaged over four metres allowing larger ships to cross the bar.

But the way forward was dogged by controversy. Two camps developed: one which saw the solution in dredging, the other in the extension of the north pier. So great was the agitation that it led to the fall of the government of Harry Escombe in October 1897. Ultimately, a combination of the scour facilitated by the north and south piers and the effects of dredging resolved access to Durban harbour. In 1904, the Armadale Castle, drawing 6,7 metres of water, became the first mail-steamer to enter the port.

Although incomplete and a non-starter, the remains of Vetch’s pier should serve as a reminder of the power of the ocean and the need for fearless scrutiny of public projects.

                                                                                ------------------------

Duncan Du Bois is engaged in post-graduate research in the school of History at UKZN. He is also a DA ward councillor.

VIEWS ON VIEWS

 

Are property owners entitled to a view from their properties?

In terms of case law, Paola v Jeeva 2003 and Clark v Farraday 2004, there are conflicting findings on this. However, the basic guideline that emerges from those cases is that as long as National Building Regulations and Standards are being complied with and the storey size of the building being constructed is within what the zoning permits, a property owner does not do his neighbour an injury if his building obstructs his neighbour's view.  

This applies also to trees or shrubbery on a verge or in a neighbouring property.One is not permitted to cut down such natural barriers on the grounds that they are obstructing one's view. In any event, the correct approach is always to consult one's neighbour and to exchange views in a diplomatic way. There are usually good reasons why people have hedges, foliage and trees. They provide privacy, help to reduce noise, serve as a sunscreen and freshen the air. Those factors need to be respected.

VETCH'S PIER: HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF   sent to The Mercury January 13

 The controversy swirling around the proposed construction of a small craft harbour adjacent to Vetch's pier (Mercury, January 13) bears a striking resemblance to that which attended the Vetch plan in the 1860s. 

Aside from misgivings about the cost of Captain James Vetch's plan (165,000 pounds), the engineer tasked with executing it, George Abernethy, found it was faulty in two fundamental ways: the proposed entrance to the enclosed area ignored the prevailing wind and current directions. Essentially Vetch proposed an enclosed area outside the natural entrance to the bay. 

Financial reasons and poor construction methods saw  Vetch's pier abandoned in 1864. In time the ocean reduced it to what it is today. Both in design and placement, the small craft harbour now being proposed ignores the same natural forces that made Vetch's plan impractical. Besides, it specifically ignores the pounding effects of the cyclone swells which emanate occasionally from the Mozambique channel.

Eectricity Dept 42% under-staffed:

This was disclosed in answer to a question tabled at the October 31, 2011 meeting of the Ethekwini Council.

When is a concession card not a concession card?

Answer: when it is issued by ANC-ruled Ethekwini municipality which charges R50 to concession card applicants! At the October 31 meeting of the Council the ANC was the only party to vote in favour of charging R50 for the granting of a concession card. Yet the ANC claims to be the 'party for the poor.'

 Cable theft economics:

Excluding secondary economic losses, cable theft over the past five years has cost Ethekwini Municipality nearly R100 million. The cost of replacing a 350m length of stolen cable is R38,500 This was stated in a Notice of Motion at the October 31, Council meeting.

THE OBSTACLES AND SOLUTIONS TO FUNDING DURBAN

On October 21 the  Ethekwini Metro's Economic Development and Planning Committee attended an all -day workshop during which the nuts, screws and bolts of funding and promoting Durban were unpacked. For members of the Democratic Alliance the various presentations merely served to reiterate the main features of the Metro's integrated development plan.As such, they  did not break any new ground in producing solutions to sustain Durban's future funding nor did they recognise and concede the elements that are deterring economic growth.

Fundamental to Durban's future growth plans is the need to grow the rates base. Ms Soobs Moonsamy, head of the Economic Development and Planning unit, stated that the rates base would need to grow by 20% over the next 15 years in order to sustain the intended upward growth trajectory. Currently the rates base is languishing at around a one percent growth rate. As the driver of economic development in the Metro, the DA believes that a paradigm shift in thinking is needed within the Council if real economic progress is to be realised. In essence, this means abandoning the view that governments create jobs and embracing the philosophy which recognises that the role of government, at any level, is to facilitate the conditions within which jobs may be created.

The Ethekwini Council has within its grasp the resources with which to pursue real economic growth. Languishing across the Metro are numerous pieces of land that are surplus to requirements. Invariably they are poorly maintained and represent a cost to the ratepayer when they are maintained.The DA proposes that an audit of these plots is done and that as many as possible are sold off for development. In that way they will augment the rates base and relieve Council departments of the burden their maintenance places on budgets and resources. To facilitate this exercise ideology needs to be sidelined. All too often attempts to dispose of Council -owned land have been halted by political ideology within the Housing Dept which seems hell bent on spawning low-cost housing projects as widely as possible without any thought being given to the negative effect such projects have on the value of existing properties, and hence the rates base.

One of the observations made at the workshop concerned the reluctance of the private sector to intervene and to drive growth. There are sound reasons for this situation and they constitute an indictment of government. Essentially what needs to be recognised is the diminishing confidence not only of the private sector but also of  ratepayers in the service delivery capacity of government and of confidence and trust in government. Whether it involves problems of account billing or town planning zoning, the deficiencies and inefficiencies within the Ethekwini administration are a glaring phenomenon which, daily, is diminishing confidence in the ability of local government to achieve and to deliver. Until that experience and that perception changes, economic growth will continue to limp along instead of flying. 

Ironically, no mention was made at the workshop of the proposed business tax and the effect that would have on the topic under review. In similar vein, in July the Economic Development and Planning Committee failed to record a submission on the proposed Property Rates Bill. Not surprisingly, then,  the workshop neglected to consider incentives to attract and retain businesses within the Ethekwini region. Such incentives should involve water and rates tariffs. 

Unfortunately this situation is symptomatic of a larger, national reality. Hobbling growth and investment are two ideologically entrenched factors: the volatility of trade unions and BEE requirements. The runaround being given to Walmart is a case in point. Instead of facilitating and welcoming the investment of this American company, the opposite is happening. 

Whilst uncertainty in resolving these issues and the redress they merit seems set to continue to frustrate economic prospects, of one reality there is no doubt: the existing rates base of Ethekwini municipality cannot shoulder any further exactions of funding. It is tapped out and stretched to breaking point. Unless there is significant expansion of  the rates base, Durban's future funding is in trouble. 

 

PROPERTY RATES:  COLLECTIONS AND EXEMPTIONS

disclosed at the meeting of the Council on Sept 27:

# 118,146 properties are valued at less than R120,000 and do not pay rates.

# The City Treasury collects R335m in rates every month.

In response to questions at the September 5 Council Meeting:

MOSES MABHIDA STADIUM - MONTHLY COSTS:

The monthly operating cost to the municipality is R5,951 million.

BODYGUARDS FOR COUNCILLORS:

12 councillors are currently being provided with bodyguards.Although it varies, each of the 12 has at least two bodyguards

Since the May election the cost to the Metro for those bodyguards has been R1,34 million.

.THEFT OF COPPER CABLE:

 2007        R15 million cost to the City.

2008        R16 million   "

2009        R21 million   "

2010        R22 million   "     "    "      "

Current price of copper per kg: R65.