FRIDAY BRIEFING | Dark, dank and decaying: Joburg - the city we no longer love

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Dark, dank and decaying: Johannesburg - the city we no longer love

There is no real clarity of how Johannesburg landed up with its name. 

According to South African History Online there appears to be only one document stating the city, which started out as a dusty mining town, was named after Johann Friedrich Bernhard Rissik and Christiaan Johannes Joubert.

The two were sent by the Transvaal Republic in 1886 to investigate and set up a site where a town could be built after gold was discovered in the area. After it was confirmed that indeed there was gold to be mined, the town was proclaimed in a great hurry and perhaps that explains the dearth of documentation setting out why the town's name was chosen. 

Since 1886, Johannesburg has blossomed from a mining town into South Africa's biggest city, with over five million residents. 

Officially it's called Johannesburg - but colloquially it has several names: City of Gold, eGoli, Jozi, Joburg. 

While it may not have a mountain, its vibrancy and its economy attracted many to settle in the city and call it home. 

Sadly though, that energy and vibrancy does not seem to be enough anymore. As residents feel the effects of Covid-19, as well as navigating the city's crumbling infrastructure with constant electricity and water cuts and poor service delivery, it appears residents are choosing to leave Gauteng for smaller towns in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. This was highlighted in recent research by data analytics group, Lightstone.

The title "world-class city" has now just become a mockery.

Local government elections are around the corner. Will politicians stop being politicians and realise that it takes hard work to run a city or will they allow Johannesburg to continue on its current trajectory? 

In this week's Friday Briefing, Auwal Socio-Economic Research Institute's Angelo Fick, Municipal IQ's Karen Heese and Kevin Allan, Fin24's Lameez Omarjee and the Public Affairs Research Institute's Thina Nzo examine the issues closely and look at what needs to be done to get the city back on track. 

It's an issue we should all be concerned about, wherever we live in the country. 


Vanessa Banton

Opinions editor

Johannesburg: No more glitter in the 'City of Gold'

The administrators of Johannesburg have not kept pace with the city's growing population nor implemented necessary upgrades, which has led to a metropolis with decaying infrastructure, writes Angelo Fick.

Johannesburg: Why the centre cannot hold

It seems prospects for the upcoming local government election are grim for the city of Johannesburg, which is dealing with poor infrastructure, little service delivery and even less accountability, writes Karen Heese and Kevin Allan.

Johannesburg is 'losing its shine' - but still central to SA's economic recovery

The city of Johannesburg is a major economic hub for South Africa and the continent, contributing 16% and 4% respectively, to GDP. But as Lameez Omarjee writes, poor service delivery is a deterrence to business and investor confidence, and the city risks losing businesses.

Coalition politics: crux of demolition of political stability, governance in Johannesburg

Thina Nzo breaks down why coalition politics in Johannesburg were initially successful, but became less so following ongoing battles and reneging on various agreements, preventing representatives from focusing on service delivery and political oversight as particularistic party interests were placed over the interests of citizens and constituencies.

To receive Friday Briefing, sign up for the newsletter hereAvailable to all News24 readers.

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