Why is this man laughing? ’Cos he thinks he’s hot seat

Ideas

Why is this man laughing? ’Cos he thinks he’s hot seat

The mayor who reckons it’s a good idea to encourage sewage spills as proof of his progressive agenda

Columnist


If you’ve ever wondered why the United Democratic Movement only got 1% in the last general election, look no further than Nelson Mandela Bay and Mongameli Bobani.
According to the UDM, Bobani is the mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay.
The Democratic Alliance insists he is an interloping hot-water-bottle merely warming Athol Trollip’s seat.
The ANC would probably tell you that he is the symbolic figurehead of a valiant, revolutionary ANC-led coalition taking back the city from threats like accountability and fiscal discipline.
I’m not sure what the EFF would tell you, since their position on everything shifts almost hourly depending on which pamphlet the Great Leader has read on the loo that morning, but they’d no doubt yell something about being kingmakers before trumpeting that Bobani was a straight-razor against the throat of whiteness.
What he is, of course, is the public servant who was recorded demanding that his city should stop delivering services to certain residents.
Most versions of the story led with Bobani’s promise, made to a town hall meeting last week, that 100% of the city’s budget would go to township residents.
Given the old-timey pork-barrel politics going down in Nelson Mandela Bay, it was a pretty austere offer: it must have taken great restraint not to promise 500% of the budget.
Still, one has to say that 100% seems a tad overambitious and not a little bit self-defeating.
I’m sure that some wealthier residents of the area are politically aware and progressive, and wouldn’t mind seeing most of their rates going towards poorer citizens. But you’d have to be a masochist to remain in a place where you received literally nothing for your taxes. If Bobani turns the dial all the way up, he might soon discover that 100% isn’t very much once wealthy residents start semigrating elsewhere.
That, however, is not what made people sit up and take notice.
No, Bobani’s real claim to fame is his statement, moments later, that if residents in wealthier areas reported a burst drain or sewage problem, he would tell his head of infrastructure, Andile Lungisa (recently sentenced to two years for assault), not to respond but rather attend to complaints in New Brighton.
A day later, however, he sold out his scatological revolution, perhaps having got a call from ratepayers explaining the whole 0%-of-the-budget-plus-overflowing-drains thing to him in the form of a story sum. He had, he explained, been speaking figuratively rather than literally, which seems appropriate given that he is clearly a figurative mayor rather than a literal one.
The obvious lesson from this potentially literal shit-storm is that the UDM is fantastically ill-equipped for government. If its brightest and best think it’s a good idea to encourage sewage spills as proof of their progressive agenda then it’s really no wonder that the party has just 184,000 voters nationwide.

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