South Africa: Cape Town's Greatest Challenge Is to Unite Itself

opinion

Cape Town's inequality is often the first thing people notice. The drive from the airport takes you past shacks on the edge of the highway to the luxury apartments in the CBD. Inequality is in the bones of the city. And unless Cape Town's worlds converge soon, it will hit a crisis point. Designing and implementing the policy to bring these worlds together has been dubbed Cape Town's greatest challenge.

The foundations of Cape Town's inequality were laid in the 1600s when Jan van Riebeeck and the Dutch East India Company (VOC) arrived at the Cape of Good Hope. They created a trade and slave-based economy under the name "Dutch Cape Colony".

The landing of the settlers in the Cape initiated the inequality that would come to define South Africa's governmental apparatus. The desire to create separate worlds within the city, deeply embedded in the planning process that the VOC, even suggested the development of a trench between the Liesbeeck and Salt rivers that ran from the city to False Bay, to mark the boundaries. The plan was vetoed by Jan van Riebeeck because of impracticality, but it set the tone for a city of separateness.i

Fast-forward 300 years -...

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