Subscribe to industry newsletters

Of 'mountain goats' and productivity

Ask any Gautenger (or 'Vaalie) about Cape Town and they'll talk about those 'mountain goats who live a laid-back lifestyle'. They'll enviously talk about how, in Cape Town, work only starts at nine and last just a couple of hours before the 'workers' nip off for crudités dipped into an outlandish fynbos dressing for lunch, accompanied by herbed, non-alcoholic wine and finished off with rooibos cappuccino.
Capetonians have a reputation for knocking-off at about four (having put in an effective three hours' work) before taking a leisurely stroll along the beach and heading home to dine on fresh salmon, homemade broccoli salad, wilted spinach and a sweet potato and butternut fusion.

So I wasn't really surprised to read that Municipal IQ economist, Karen Heese found Gauteng had taken top spot in the annual productivity index. What did surprise me is that it's the first time in years that the Western Cape has been displaced from the top spot.

The only extensive productivity I've heard about from the Western Cape is abalone poaching, gang rapes and robberies on the Cape Flats or mass rallies to protect a little-known patch of fynbos that might be threatened by the tourists going up Table Mountain in a cable car.

But real work? In Cape Town? That's surely unheard of?

Billing crisis? What billing crisis?

Clearly I'm wrong and the people in the Mother City go about their business in a highly efficient, highly productive manner - like most mothers. No mess, no fuss and no whingeing.

According to 'findings' from Municipal IQ (the company that provided all the productivity data), the accolade for Gauteng is based "on service delivery, low poverty levels and high expenditure in the municipalities and metros."

Ask the resident's of Joburg and Pretoria about the billing systems crisis in both these cities. Ask residents about the unexplained disruptions and cut-offs of electricity and water supplies; ask about the chaos on the highways, the collapse of all public health systems; widespread and mass corruption; hijacking of buildings; the failure of the provincial education system or the unprosecuted levels of rape, robbery, violent crime and suburban shoot-outs on city streets.

They'll tell you that's the real Gauteng - not the one to which the Municipal IQ is referring.

No billing crisis

Cape Town, on the other hand, doesn't have a propensity for getting the water and electricity bills wrong. Cape Town's housing progress for indigent people is significantly higher than elsewhere in the country. CCTV cameras monitor all the highways and taxi drivers who break the laws are actually prosecuted; the revitalisation of the Central Business District is doing just what it should do and the beaches, suburbs and even the city centre are always well-groomed, tidy and clean.

Municipal IQ seems to have based its findings on something that hardly touches the human face of the cities of South Africa.

They used criteria such as the lower number of service delivery protests in Gauteng (where thousands of people are just too lazy to protest) as one of the criteria.

They also used the fact that Gauteng had a fewer number of strikes than the Western Cape but you must bear in mind that Gautengers are too disorganised to get to a strike on time or even on the right day.

Municipal IQ found that the continued spending of money by Gauteng municipalities was also higher than the Western Cape.

What they didn't say is that Gauteng is spending money it doesn't have (because of the mess in the billing systems) and has to be regularly be bailed-out by the National Treasury because their funds are depleted.
Cape Town doesn't do that.

So being South Africa's "most productive province" might be a nice accolade for Gauteng to have, but ask anyone if it holds any water and they'll probably shake their heads and say: "What rubbish".

Then ask a Gautenger if they would move to Cape Town if they could replicate their lifestyles there and they'd probably say they'd do so in a flash.

I certainly would.