AFRICANGLOBE – Mhlupheki Ndungwane (not his real name), an experienced Johannesburg-based journalist working for the Gauteng provincial government in South Africa, says he has had enough of the ruling Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Western Cape and its arbitrary ways and he will not live in Cape Town, one of the world’s most beautiful cities, anytime soon.
He knows the socio-economic situation in the Western Cape, the province where Cape Town is situated, very well. That’s because more than twenty years ago, Ndungwane travelled from his hometown of Soweto, South Africa’s biggest township, to the Western Cape to study journalism at the then Peninsula Technikon. Soweto is situated a few kilometres west of Johannnesburg, often dubbed Africa’s world class city.
He spent three and a half years in the Western Cape before graduating with a respectable National Diploma in Journalism (NDJour) and immediately packed his bags and went back home to work for major Johannesburg newspapers. “I am really frightened at what is happening in our country right now. But I am more concerned about what is happening in the Western Cape. The place is plagued by unending services delivery protests,” says Ndungwane.
He claims the protests are justified because services delivery often does not happen in areas that are populated by Africans. Africans continue to live in squalid conditions while whites live in unbelievable opulence in and around Cape Town. You see, for many decades a debate has been raging on in the Western Cape with many people saying that Africans living in and around Cape Town have failed to be part of the city even after 20 years of former president Nelson Mandela’s democracy.
It has been alleged that Africans are systematically discouraged from being part of the city of Cape Town by business and the ruling DA. Of course this has been denied by the implicated parties. But if things were hunky-dory in the province, Cape Town would not have seen an emergence of the aggressive Ses’Khona People’s Rights Movement, which is calling for the City Of Cape Town to build permanent brick toilets, instead of the portable flush ones that the city is rolling out.
This group is sometimes called the “poo protestors” because it targets the city’s busiest key points like the Cape Town International Airport and dump human waste right there in full view of the world. Only last week, bedlam erupted at the Bellville Magistrates Court, North of Cape Town, as the organisation’s leaders, Loyiso Nkohla and Andile Lili, appeared briefly in court there.
Lili and Nkohla have become notorious since the start of the protests. They were initially suspended and expelled by the ANC but were later welcomed after the decision was rescinded on a technicality. The group has held a series of rolling mass protests in the Cape Town CBD and these have been supported by many people.
However, while this mayhem continues to afflict the Africans of the city, Europeans continue to buy expensive property in and around the city of Cape Town. Lew Geffen, the chairman of Lew Sotheby’s International Realty, said in an interview that properties ranging from R20 million (nearly $2m) upwards were being acquired in Cape Town by Europeans and a small number of Nigeria and Zimbabweans.
“The exchange rate has been the prime motive behind this surge in the take up of these expensive properties. And of course the beauty of this place is also another attraction,” Geffen said. He added that some people buy properties in Somerset, Bantry Bay, Winelands, Knysna, Kirstenbosch and Plattenberg Bay because this is a lifestyle thing. “These come for a few months in summer,” he said.
South Africans are always told that the continuing strike action, high crime rates and political instability have the potential to change investors’ perception of this country as an attractive investment destination. “When these people buy property in South Africa these political issues do not come up. International investors are only quick at seeing opportunity that could have good returns for them,” Geffen said.
He said six international acting stars were currently in Cape Town looking for expensive property. But at this stage they are looking to rent. He did not name them. According to a survey of 155 free-standing houses undertaken by Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty on the Atlantic Seaboard in the past 18 months, just 13 house sales in Bantry Bay over the period resulted in R176.65 million ($16.6 million) changing hands.
By: Mzwandile Jacks
Life In South Africa Where Economic Apartheid Persists