South Africa: Of Developers, Governance and Land Speculation


In Cape Town, the City's decisions to support developers in the Philippi Horticultural Area, the River Club development in Observatory, and the WEX2 development in Woodstock have drawn the ire of residents, activists and NGOs.

In what often feels like a never-ending legal and ethical slog through the mud, development interests continue to place immense pressure on systems of urban governance to bend to their interests at the expense of public good.

On 10 October the US Treasury moved to bar members of the Gupta family from the US financial markets. This latest escalation in sanctions follows the stream of revelations that have emerged since the 2016 report of the Public Protector into State Capture - practices of often corrupt and illicit influencing on government decision-making.

While high-profile cases such as the Guptas' ties to former President Jacob Zuma involve development projects on the largest scales, we see similar types of influencing at all levels of governance throughout South Africa, especially regarding land and property development.

What is more concerning is that in this complex culture of speculative behaviour, it appears financial power has become the dominant currency to the detriment of social and ecological coexistence values that are critical...

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