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Johannesburg, the unloved stepchild

Mumtaz Moosa |
31 May 2023 | 11:45 CAT
1 min read

Photo Credit: City of JHB Twitter

Johannesburg started as a dusty mining city that has blossomed since 1886 into one of South Africa’s most significant cities, named jointly after Johann Friedrich Bernhard Rissik and Christiaan Johannes Joubert. The Transvaal Republic sent the two in 1886 to investigate and set up a site where a town could be built after gold was discovered.

After it was confirmed that there was gold to be mined, the town was proclaimed in a great hurry, and perhaps that explains the absence of documentation setting out why the town’s name was chosen.

While Johannesburg may not have a sea or any of the world’s wonders, the vibrancy and economy attracted many to relocate. 

Over the last decade, the city has lost its vibrancy; with the never-ending mayoral battles and political power plays, Johannesburg’s decay can be seen even when driving through the richest gold mile. 

The title “world-class city” is a mockery now as crumbling infrastructure and poor and non-existent service delivery make the City of Gold the country’s abused stepchild.

As a resident in one of the suburbs of Johannesburg, I can’t help but feel that the city has been forgotten. Driving around is now considered a sport as one must plan one’s route to navigate burst pipes, load shedding, and not forgetting the potholes that should have their zip code. Let’s not even talk about the growing number of homeless people; that is a topic for another day.

Johannesburg has lost its shine but is still central to South Africa’s economy, contributing 4%-16% to its GDP.

Sadly the stepchild of South Africa has been in a constant battle with collation governments, unseated mayors and political conflicts that are killing the city, making one realise that political parties have placed the city’s agenda on their list as a political movement over the concern or care of the residents. 

Residents need to realise that come the 2024 elections; their vote will determine whether the metro will be uplifted to its former glory or left to rot.


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