Has 'class' Apartheid taken root?

Author:Parker, Mushtak
Position:Around Africa: South Africa

A new label has emerged In South Africa--class Apartheid', which cuts across races but has divided the country into clearly demarcated have and have-not segments. Mushtak Parker reports on how a councillor is working on overturning this phenomenon.

The Western Cape Provincial Administration, the only one to be ruled by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party, is aggressively pushing 'market-based high growth' policies and development strategies as the answer to the province's economic predicament.

This reflects similar issues across the country: a stagnant GDP growth rate, falling real household incomes, stubbornly high unemployment, especially among the youth, and concerns over inward FDI largely caused by the contentious EWC (Expropriation without Compensation) land reform proposals.

In Cape Town, the aim is to address entrenched delivery deficits in jobs, housing and education, and to mitigate high crime and murder rates, especially in Cape Town's sprawling Cape Flats--the human dumping ground of the non-White populations of the Western Cape under Apartheid's vicious race and urban classification laws.

Perceptions of national and local governments being in collusion with big money and the private sector are rife at a time when the disgraced former President Jacob Zuma is fighting for his reputation at the national inquiry into State Capture.

Against this backdrop, ordinary people, some of whose communities go back two centuries, feel left behind--hardly able to manage. This has led to a new label, 'class Apartheid'.

They blame local municipalities for fostering the phenomenon through gentrification, and PPPs (public-private partnerships) with scant disregard for heritage, social and community cohesion.

"I prefer not to call it 'class' Apartheid," explained Brandon Golding, the DA Cape Town City councillor serving Ward 77. The ward includes the historically and architecturally most significant parts of the Mother City--ranging from the Oranjezicht, Lower Gardens, Vredehoek and Devil's Peak, all former White-only areas under the notorious Group Areas Act of 1950, to the Muslim enclave of BoKaap.

Class, Golding says, has many emotive connotations. "I prefer to call it economic apartheid between people who have wealth and access to it and those who don't."

It is no coincidence that Golding is the first non-White councillor for this ward, having entered local government in the last election after a successful and lucrative career as a...

To continue reading