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Saturday, 15 September 2007

The rise and rise of Soweto...

Times Online have a fascinating article on how an emerging black middle class is contributing to the regeneration of Soweto:

At the end of apartheid, average incomes in white areas were five times higher than those in black areas, but latest statistics show that the emerging black middle class – credited with creating the biggest economic boom in South Africa since the Second World War – is now responsible for more than a quarter of the country’s purchasing power of £44 billion. Nowhere is that more visible than in Soweto. The roads are full of luxury cars, driven by fashion-conscious young executives. Restaurants and clubs have opened in many of the township’s more affluent areas.

Rows of squatters’ shacks still exist, but they are being replaced slowly with blocks of low-cost housing. House prices have rocketed over the past four years as more and more middle-class blacks enter the property market. “I can’t believe this is the Soweto I grew up in,” Nelson Chauke, 37, said as he looked at the glass-and-steel frontage of the mall. “In my wildest dreams I never thought I would see something like this here.”


  1. Cho,

    I thought this should be a right forum for me to find out if you have any ideas as to why there's delay on starting construction of the shooping mall in Kitwe town. Is Govt against the move? Do they feel it will upset the Lusaka economy?


  2. In this article, there seems to be friction between Kitwe City Council and the Ministry of Lands:

    Rev. Nyirongo said it was unfortunate that the council and PGE were running adverts in the national media on the intended construction of the shopping mall when government has refused to give title to the company to develop freedom park.

    She cautioned the Kitwe City Council against using her ministry as a rubber stamp in its activities.

    The minister said her ministry was designed to administer issues of land diligently and not to fight councils.

    Now if the councils themselves were legally empowered to allocate land...

    Obviously there would have to be some kinds of checks (pollution, etc.), but now they have to ask permission at the minstry to develop their councils.

    So my first estimate would be - bureaucracy. I think this is a typical example of why governing through the ministries, especially everday decicionmaking, is hindered and delayed.

    I think there should definitely be measures taken to prevent or monitor corruption at the council level. However, if decisionmaking is to be sped up, councils must be much more empowered.

  3. Oh and by the way, Freedom Park is a national heritage site. I don't know why the council didn't have another location instead.

    There are cases in point: Plans to build a state of the art shopping mall at Freedom Park in Kitwe is a good example. The company was given the go ahead by Kitwe City Council, but was stopped by the government which reminded the local authority, that the park was, besides being of social and significant importance – a heritage site.

    Again, I don't know Kitwe City Council chose a heritage site to give the go ahead for building a mall.

  4. This is a letter sent in on the issue, from back when The Post was still non-subscribtion:

    May I add my voice to those that objected to the sale of Kitwe's Freedom Park. It’s good that for the first time in recent days the government has done something sensible. Bravo to the Land's Minister for not succumbing to pressure. Those associations that claimed to have been speaking for the people should have first petitioned the council to maintain the park rather the saying that the park is dirty and run down and hence fit for selling.

    And to Kitwe City Council, this is a wake-up call; there is so much undeveloped land in the city, therefore if those investors or whatever you call them are serious, give them a piece of land and let them develop it. It’s high time Chiluba's mentality of killing something valuable and then selling it at a give away price died.

    The Kitwe Zoo was damaged and then the land sold at a give-away price to the so-called investors but how many ordinary Kitwe residents have benefited from the sale of the Zoo?

    My advice to the council is to be proactive and think of developing Chisokone Market into an ultra modern market. This market has become a health hazard and an annual arsenal. This is one market that those investors and the council should be thinking of developing if their interest is in developing this country and bettering the live of Zambians.
    Hands off our park!!

    It seems like the Council is unresponsive to local sentiment - something that should absolutely be remedied before giving them more rights - democracy and transparancy are preconditions.


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