The City of Johannesburg. Picture: SUPPLIED
The City of Johannesburg. Picture: SUPPLIED

In the Grand Academy of Lagado, in the city of Balnibarbi, Lemuel Gulliver, the eponymous hero-traveller in Gulliver’s Travels, finds a scientist trying to extract sunbeams from cucumbers.

The idea was that the sun’s rays could be reverse-engineered out of the cucumbers and packed into hermetically sealed vials which would later be opened to warm the air in winter.

"He told me he did not doubt in eight years more, that he should be able to supply the governor’s gardens with sunshine at a reasonable rate, but he complained that his stock was low," Gulliver said.

The idea looked good on paper, a bit like Joburg’s Growth & Development Strategy 2040 looks good on paper.

Unfortunately, however, cucumbers — like money to fix Joburg’s water supply, or replace the fire doors at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, or repair the city’s grounded SAPS helicopters — were in short supply.

Eight more years, then, to find more cucumbers, or more money, kicking the can down the road while hoping that the next time you try to squeeze sunshine out of a vegetable it will actually work.

Meanwhile Charlotte Maxeke Hospital remains mostly closed, its 100 empty ICU beds out of reach of desperate medics looking for beds for severely ill Covid patients whose families would prefer that their loved ones did not perish in hospital corridors.

Meanwhile, Rahima Moosa Hospital relies on water from emergency boreholes drilled in haste because the city’s water supply failed.

And the city’s commuter rail network lies, literally, in ruins, stripped, pillaged and destroyed by thieves while no-one lifted a finger to stop it.

Saying "we need to …" and "we must …" is as useful to this Covid-battered city as a sunstruck cucumber. Fix it already.

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