18 May 2017

South Africa: Trainspotter - City Budget - the Great Unholy Tshwane Alliance Brings Us Pretoria-On-the-Rhine


Can German-style social democracy work in South Africa? Tshwane Executive Mayor Solly Msimanga, of the Democratic Alliance, thinks it can. His party has formed a coalition on the council, backed up by the Economic Freedom Fighters. And yet, this unlikely gang will be implementing a straight-up version of the ANC's National Development Plan. Can "growth" and "job development" happen in Zuma's downgraded backwater? Msimanga's new city budget, tabled on Thursday, means that we're about to find out. By RICHARD POPLAK.

The clock had just struck 10:20 when the speaker of the Tshwane city council, R.K. Mathebe, announced that there was a quorum in the house. City Hall, located in Sammy Marks Square, has not been treated kindly by successive ANC administrations. It bears a shabby, West Africa-during-a-civil-war vibe - the walls in the public gallery are scuffed, while the ceiling tiles vomit chunks of carcinogenic fluff onto guests eating sad, wilted cocktail sandwiches.

Come to think of it, this pretty much sums up Tshwane. The city appears grim, forgotten. Madiba Street, one of the CBD's main drags, is marked by mounds of reeking garbage; the townships are even worse. The Democratic Alliance, who took over the Executive Mayoralship after the...

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