Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Even under the ANC

South Africa risks riots unless it does something about the gap between rich and poor, a Cape Town official has said, according to this analysis from Business Day.

The writer suggests that the continuing inequality is due to "the failure of the policies of the present African National Congress (ANC) administration, nationally and locally."

Among other things in the article:

--"The Hout Bay valley outside Cape Town is one of the few places in SA where — due to the continuing effects of past racial segregation — three communities actually live within sight of each other: a well-off white suburb, a poor “coloured” village and a hugely overcrowded black shantytown with 70% unemployment."

--"The schools are also still overwhelmingly segregated. Nevertheless, in the face of established financial power (read white privilege) the education department seems to have buckled and accepted the status quo. If anything, it is this inaction that will create social unrest."

--"There is a desperate need to house the poor, yet the ANC programme is to build matchstick houses in already-existing black townships. In other words, they are simply adding onto apartheid spatial planning — leaving workers with massive transport problems, still desperately far from employment opportunities, plus entrenching many of the chaotic social ills of enduring poverty."

All told, this is a sad judgment on a great liberation movement. But then, remember: Che Guevara was a terrific revolutionary, but a lousy government administrator, too. South Africa is still a young nation.

Another Business Day article reports on the funding shortfalls in Cape Town's plan to replace all its squatter communities and shantytowns with reasonable housing within the coming ten years. Sadly, even the optimistic numbers provided by Mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo don't add up. The city currently builds more than 7,000 homes a year, and she wants additional money to up that to 20,000 homes. But with 16,000 families arriving in Cape Town every year, the city will be lucky to keep pace with the influx.

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