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By Martin Williams

Councillor at City


Bree explosion a glimpse of Joburg’s apocalyptic future

The ANC has revived the fallacy that Joburg is a world-class African city. Such status can only be achieved when the ANC is voted out.


The road to dystopia is paved with names of struggle stalwarts. On the City of Joburg’s GeoLis land information system, William Nicol Drive has been changed to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Drive. Appropriately.

In the Oxford definition, dystopia is “an imagined state or society in which there is great suffering or injustice, typically one that is totalitarian or post-apocalyptic”.

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In eGoli, suffering and injustice are inflicted on us by Eskom, City Power, Joburg Water and the Joburg Roads Agency (JRA). Further injustice will be when the bankrupt JRA – which can’t afford to fix potholes, maintain stormwater drains, resurface roads or build promised bridges – forks out millions to change street names.

A glimpse of Joburg’s apocalyptic future flashed briefly last week when Bree Street exploded. The street was in 2015 renamed after struggle stalwart Lilian Ngoyi. But the name Bree is still widely used.

Bree was derived from the Dutch for broad, although Bree was not wider than surrounding streets. Poor Lilian Ngoyi is surrounded by ANC heroes in the filthy, unsafe, decrepit CBD.

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Time and money spent on renaming have not been matched with due care by those entrusted with the “selfless” struggle. In fact, selfishness, greed and corruption are among the reasons why the renamed Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Drive will never be as well-maintained as it was during its William Nicol prime.

In addition to not caring a stuff about maintenance, comrades have for decades looted the JRA. And where are engineers and other skilled folk who know how to look after and improve renamed infrastructure?

Most have been deliberately removed through cadre deployment and race-based employment policies. That is why, shortly after last week’s explosion, the city’s development planning directorate issued a desperate WhatsApp plea for skilled help.

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“We definitely need any structural engineers, civil engineers, electrical engineers or water engineers/gas detection experts. The City COO has undertaken that they will be paid and will conclude contracts within the hour.”

Politicians who rushed in and tried to speak with authority on TV in the city’s hour of need were pathetic.

Yet none of this will change anything about the way the ANC and its partners behave. As long as there is easy money to be made from race-based tenders, the racial exclusion of skilled people will continue.

No-one knows for sure how far we are from dystopia, but the national democratic revolution leads in ineluctably that direction.

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William Nicol Drive begins – or ends – in my ward. My party opposed the motion passed by council in September 2018 to rename William Nicol. The motion did not comply with council policy and public participation had not been carried out. The matter remains substantively and procedurally flawed. But nothing will stop comrades now.

With the 2024 elections looming, Winnie’s revolutionary brand value will be exploited by the ANC and the EFF. The destructive appeal of her rallying cry about boxes of matches and necklaces resonates with them.

The ANC has revived the fallacy that Joburg is a world-class African city. Such status, for city and country, can only be achieved when the ANC is voted out. Stalwarts and all. Blast them out.

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