Mangaung: Central to success

2016-04-13 06:00
Unathi Henama

Unathi Henama

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IN February 2002, Donald Rumsfeld, the then United States secretary of state, said: “There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, these are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know’’.

Municipalities have been increasingly engaged in studies linked to the quality of life of residents.

This mirror exercise is important so that the municipality can measure itself against benchmarks and also compete with other cities on the quality of life it offers citizens.

Mangaung has one of the best offerings of quality of life and standard of living compared to many cities in South Africa. The city has world-class health-care facilities, a low crime rate, good schools and a good infrastructure.

In tourism the focus has moved from an obsession about the number of arrivals, to whether the increase in arrivals leads to an improvement in the standard of living of locals, as well as their quality of life.

Local government is given a developmental role and is legislated to provide an environment conducive to business sustainablity and also ensure that it acts as a catalyst for the economic well-being of its population.

The City of eThekwini is one of my favourite cities. I used to visit Durban when I was a student and have noticed the transformation of the point areas, once a crime- and grime-riddled area. It is now a tourism mecca. Today, major sporting events visit the sandy beaches of this city; it will even host the Commonwealth Games as an entry point to bid for the Olympic Games.

This is a known known, and for those who never knew, changes your unknown unknowns, into known knowns.

I have realised that whenever a hugely successful music star comes to the shores of South Africa, they follow the golden triangle of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. This means an increase in local spending by the locals and the inward migration of people who want to see their stars. Nicki Minaj followed the Golden Triangle without passing through central South Africa – Bloemfontein, Mangaung. I believe that Mangaung has the ability to host such events, considering venues like the Free State Stadium and the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium.

Mangaung’s centrality benefits Lesotho, whilst the Eastern Cape’s major cities are closer to Bloemfontein than to Cape Town. The North-West and Northern Cape, which borders the Free State, will make the business case to Big Concerts attractive.

It is time to make this a known known, to ensure that Mangaung is put on the international map.

I am highlighting this missed opportunity with a deep sense of love for my people in the Free State, and an abysmal attitude to the triple challenges – poverty, inequality and unemployment – that affect the majority of our people, robbing them of human dignity and quality of life.

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