ROB ROSE: Letting down SA’s small towns
The National Arts Festival being staged in Makhanda focuses attention on the epidemic of entropy afflicting small-town SA. Not that municipal managers care
You wouldn’t know it, but Makhanda, the Eastern Cape town formerly known as Grahamstown, isn’t even in one of the worst municipalities in the country. This week, it hosted the 45th National Arts Festival, an 11-day event attracting 200,000 visitors into which the government ploughs R17m, while another R10m comes from the National Lottery.
But it was something of a miracle that it went off without a hitch: it took a last-minute court application by the Grahamstown Business Forum to stop Eskom shutting off electricity to the municipality for a R44m debt. And that’s apart from the town’s incipient water crisis. Even if the taps aren’t dry, the visitors will have surely noticed the decay. Potholes are rife, many streetlights don’t work, and there’s a pervasive sense of small-town entropy everywhere.