Some while ago, our city manager Dr. Michael Sutcliffe was accosted by an irate ratepayer while he and his wife were having Sunday breakfast (I seem to remember) in a restaurant. A letter from Dr Sutcliffe was subsequently published in the local papers in which he slammed the failure of ‘angry white men’ to accept transformation in society. There wasn’t so much as a hint that the ‘angry white man’ might have had a legimitate grievance and reasons, like the litter and deteriorating infrastructure, for taking the city manager (who is, after all, his employee) to task.
Now it seems, according to the Independent on Saturday of November 8, 2008, that Dr Sutcliffe has himself become an angry white man. He is apparently furious that people are defacing the new streetname signs which he and his cohorts have forced on an unwilling city. He is so angry, in fact, that he is reportedly trying to ensure that anyone caught defacing the signs gets an automatic jail sentence. This for an offense which is currently on a par with putting up posters illegally or spraying graffiti on walls and which would only attract a fine. Sounds to me like vindictiveness brought about by an inability to tolerate being crossed.
The opposition DA party in the council said it didn’t condone the destruction of property but pointed out that these sort of things happen when you force things on people who have no legitimate redress. The ANC, of which Dr Sutcliffe is a member, was brought into being to offer resistance to a system in which people were denied the right to decide things for themselves. I wonder if he and the rest of our city management see any parralells at all between their behaviour and that of the previous regime?
Here’s a suggestion: I’d be in favour of renaming any street provided it has the approval of the majority of people living or doing business there.