South Africa: Opportunities for Change - Bridging Class Divides and Addressing Underinvestment for Gauteng's Poor


Covid-19 has upended almost everything since a year ago when the first suspected case of Covid-19 was confirmed in South Africa. This is what Gauteng -- with 15 million residents -- is working on when it comes to managing urbanisation, inequality and infrastructure.

The conjunctural period presented by Covid-19 and its associated variants manifests both challenges and opportunities. Even before the arrival of coronavirus, the province of Gauteng faced interlinked structural challenges which, inarguably, were exacerbated by this global health pandemic. These ranged from rapid urbanisation, economic inequality and inequitable access to infrastructure, including digital access.

Like any crisis, established and emergent, there are opportunities to reset the compass and recalibrate fitting policies and programmes. Undergirding these interventions, as made evident and urgent in this Covid-19 zeitgeist, should be targeted and time-bound social compacts and public-private partnerships (PPPs). As Kofi Annan said in 2009 about problematiques like climate vulnerability and migration, these are problems that travel without passports and consideration of borders, race, class or economic status.

For the Gauteng Department of Economic Development (GDED), these are matters it practically has to deal with, year-on-year, relating to material conditions of its diverse populations and overstretched infrastructure networks. There is increasing...

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