Spin city

Cape Times
5th April 2011

THE article in the Cape Times yesterday (4th April), “City found wanting on delivery”, is interesting for, among other things, destroying the much-punted myth that the City of Cape Town delivers to all and that it is the best in the world. It gives credence to the perception among many local government activists that service delivery in Cape Town is unequal.

We receive complaints daily that the quality of services are better in some parts of the city than in others. An example often cited is the vast difference in the state of open spaces and parks in the poorer areas.

The report, which is not being made public, points out dissatisfaction in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain. The difference in levels of service might not be intentional but it nevertheless manifests as inequality What is most alarming in the article is the apparent efforts by the city to place some spin on the information. What is even more disconcerting is the perceived lack of independence of the city officials judging from the “leaked” minutes.

The defensive approach by officials, for whom I always had the highest respect, is concerning. This is in sharp contrast to the recent statements by election candidates that mistakes are readily acknowledged and attended to, with some serious effort to improve. It is a dangerous governance ethos when officials find the need to get involved in the politics of information manipulation. Why would there be a concern of a “leak” when public funds paid for the survey? Let the public know if things are not going right.

An astute observer of local government would be concerned by the blurring of lines between officials and councillors, whose function it is to exercise oversight over the manner in which our officials are doing their work. This apparent collusion to delay the release of the report and efforts to spin it is really not good at all.


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