Clem Sunter


2011-05-25 14:10

Clem Sunter

After the substantial gains by the DA in the Cape Town municipal election, we can comfortably rename it Zilleville. Of course, the ANC need not worry because the rest of the major metros bar Midvaal are Zumavilles. Nevertheless, now that we are in a two-party state, it is important to draw geographical boundaries according to the pattern of votes. It is a delicious irony that the national parliament sits in Zilleville.

How does Zilleville get away from being considered a Volkstaat to which all nervous white South Africans will tend to semigrate - if they have the money to purchase property there? How does it achieve the status of being a truly African city on par with Durban where the marine promenade on election day reflected the demographic statistics and nobody cared one iota who voted for the ANC, DA or any other party? They were just having a good time on a weekday holiday. I even met the city’s CEO going for a bike ride and absorbing the convivial atmosphere of the throng. It is a completely different vibe to the Waterfront and Camp’s Bay which admittedly have the tourists but somehow miss out on the all-African experience.

I know the first thing that the negative commentators on this article will tell me is that Zilleville does not have the potholes and dirt that other cities have; and that its infrastructure is in a different league when it comes to maintenance. It hosts a world-class university as well as a world-class port. The schools are better and HIV prevalence rates are the lowest in the land. Moreover, no other city can boast the sheer majesty of the mountain that overlooks it.

I will grant all these points, plus the fact that Zilleville passes all its audits with flying colours. Yet somehow there is no other part of South Africa that so overtly illustrates the terrible inequalities which are a blight on our society. The shacks on the dunes as you drive into town would appear to be on another planet compared to the mansions in Bishopscourt and the wine farms in Constantia. I have maintained for the last 20 years that the city is surrounded by a “ring of fire” that could suddenly erupt if the economies of the townships are not integrated into the mainstream metro economy. It is a situation akin to the Gaza Strip without the religious differences and rockets.

Hence, for a sustainable future, Zilleville must lead the way in bridging the economic divide. In fact, the most critical statistic to judge whether Zilleville is doing better or worse than all the Zumavilles is the number of new jobs created over the next five years per thousand inhabitants. To create new jobs, you have to provide an environment which is conducive for entrepreneurs to establish new businesses; and then encourage them to grow their one-person operations to become formal companies employing a fair number of people.

I would like to see Zilleville having its own stock exchange so that a large chunk of the wealth of its citizens can be invested locally. It would be nice too if the venture capitalists were to pay frequent visits to the businesses in which they had invested to ensure a good chance of survival and growth. Lastly, I would earnestly implore that the big companies in Zilleville examine their supply chains to see how much of the goods and services they consume can be produced from local sources. Only then will Zilleville be a model for the rest of us to follow.

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