South Africa: Olver's Latest Municipal Dissection Casts Cape Town Politics in Dim Light

book review

Crispian Olver's first book, an insider's account of corruption in Nelson Mandela Bay, was greeted with glee by the DA as an illustration of dysfunctional ANC governance. The DA has not shown similar enthusiasm about Olver's latest publication - which turns the spotlight on the DA-run City of Cape Town around the period of the water crisis.

Crispian Olver's How To Steal a City: The Battle for Nelson Mandela Bay was one of 2017's most essential local reads: an insider's account of the factional politics facilitating corruption in the Eastern Cape municipality.

Approaching the topic of his most recent book, Olver acknowledges that he was at more of a disadvantage. The veteran public servant had been ideally positioned to write about Nelson Mandela Bay after being deployed there in 2015 as part of an attempt to clean up local government by the minister responsible at the time, Pravin Gordhan.

But writing about the governance situation in the City of Cape Town presented some challenges. Olver was not an insider to that context. He did not live in Cape Town, although he was raised in the city as a child (an experience about which he expresses mixed emotions). Neither did he...

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