The eight-hour train trip from Vienna to Zagreb allows you to daydream. And involuntarily President Ramaphosa’s dream of a new South Africa sweep aside any romantic thoughts that should occupy the fantasising space.
What probably triggered it all was witnessing the entire Balkans region boasting an efficient transport service. Trains actually run on time (here they are vandalised or set alight), tram cars servicing inner cities (here scrapped), taxis on every corner (here a war exists between owners, often leading to shoot-outs on every corner), buses running to every nook and cranny (here bus services are hijacked by the taxi industry reckoning it owns the roads).
The president’s dream did away with all the negative stumbling blocks, replaced by an efficient and sustainable system. Is it possible for his dream to come to fruition?
There was another president who also had a dream. Remember Marshall Tito? He dreamt of a united Balkans. This despite the ugly warring factions existing for many years in Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia,. Unlike our president’s dream, his came true. Why? Tito used uncanny diplomacy to get the countries, all independent of each other, to join to form a coordinated body resulting in solid local infrastructures, of which transport was one. Meaning jobs. Today the region boasts a bustling tourism industry bringing in a load of lolly.
I was the first to deride Cyril’s dream, but I have now witnessed first-hand, that all good things start with a dream. All he needs to do now is weed out his corrupt colleagues with an iron fist, allowing him the freedom to approach all role players, inside and outside of government, including labour unions, and as with Tito, do some serious persuasion. And he does possess the necessary charisma – all he needs is political will to see it through. And the nation will be behind him with or without the ANC.
As we near Zagreb, I’m getting all excited at the prospect of returning to my beloved country with a charismatic president setting up structures to improve the lives of his people. No more pussyfooting around political nincompoops.
As we disembark from a packed train, there’s rows of awaiting taxis, tram cars and buses, so no problem getting to the hotel without the smell of cordite along the way. Next stop Montenegro – and more daydreaming.