Joburg mayor: Those resisting change are protecting privilege

2015-06-25 08:24
Parks Tau. (File, City Press)

Parks Tau. (File, City Press)

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WATCH: Parks Tau: Joburg is working ... just look around

2015-05-10 11:34

City of Joburg mayor Parks Tau has shot down criticism that the city is “standing still”. The mayor delivered his state of the city address this week and highlighted a list of achievements.WATCH

Johannesburg - City officials constantly face resistance from certain pockets of society who seek to protect privilege in the face of a transformed and inclusive city, Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau says.

"Transformation was never going to be easy, so we experience resistance to transformation all the time," Tau told News24.

He said under the apartheid laws, Johannesburg was created to keep black townships on the periphery while the city's wealthy live huddled together in areas of prosperity.

Corridors of freedom

"It's not a viable way in which you have a city and our definition of these corridors as strategic corridors of freedom is about redefining the way in which Johannesburg works, that you overcome the apartheid spatial divide."

The corridors of freedom are the city's attempt at redressing inequalities of the past by improving public transport systems that allow access to areas of opportunity, as well as trying to reduce the number of private cars on the roads by implementing cycling lanes and pedestrian walkways.

Johannesburg locals needed to view the city as a place where one's ability to prosper, to gain access to opportunities and reach one's potential was not inhibited by race, class or gender, he said.

"That's the fundamental South African agenda and that's what we need to continue to drive."


During a public meeting earlier this month on the process of implementing a Bus Rapid Transit system on Louis Botha Avenue, the tempers of local residents flared, resulting in a tense atmosphere in the community hall.

Angry and frustrated residents lashed out at city officials as they tried to explain the reasons why the project would be implemented in the very popular, yet narrow road.

One resident shouted during the meeting that the city should rather use the millions set aside for the project to improve the state of the underdeveloped Alexandra township because the BRT system would be an inconvenience and would restrict the northern Johannesburg residents' freedom of movement.

"For those who enjoy the benefits of the spatial divide it is not easy to suddenly say 'we are comfortable with having these people coming to live on our shores'," Tau said.


Transformation in South Africa was an issue not only in social and residential spaces but also in the economic and work environments.

"I mean, we've had very difficult statements from people who say 'But why don't you build the opportunities in the rural areas? Why do you want to bring them close to us?'

"But what are they protecting? That's why transformation is always going to be in confrontation with who seek to protect privilege."
Tau insisted that the city and national government as a whole would not buckle under pressure from those resisting change.

"We are very clear in our minds that the task of transforming our city is something that we are determined to do."

Read more on:    parks tau  |  johannesburg  |  local government  |  service delivery

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