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World South Africa’s Small Towns Are Simmering With Frustration

04:30  27 february  2020
04:30  27 february  2020 Source:   ozy.com

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CAMDEBOO NATIONAL PARK, GRAAFF-REINET, EASTERN CAPE PROVINCE, SOUTH AFRICA - 2018/10/28: The view over Graaff-Reinet from the top of Camdeboo National Park, a wilderness area with unusual rock formations outside of Graaff-Reinet in South Africa .

South Africa may be home to big cities known to many around the world, but the heritage and culture of this melting pot of a country can be best seen in One of the oldest fishing villages in South Africa , the Western Cape town of Paternoster is known for its lobsters, white-washed fisherman’ s cottages

a canyon with a mountain in the background: CAMDEBOO NATIONAL PARK, GRAAFF-REINET, EASTERN CAPE PROVINCE, SOUTH AFRICA - 2018/10/28: The view over Graaff-Reinet from the top of Camdeboo National Park, a wilderness area with unusual rock formations outside of Graaff-Reinet in South Africa. © Leisa Tyler/LightRocket via Getty CAMDEBOO NATIONAL PARK, GRAAFF-REINET, EASTERN CAPE PROVINCE, SOUTH AFRICA - 2018/10/28: The view over Graaff-Reinet from the top of Camdeboo National Park, a wilderness area with unusual rock formations outside of Graaff-Reinet in South Africa.

As the patter of rain is heard across the parched South African town of Graaff-Reinet and its empty dam, Corene Conradie can feel the hopes of her fellow citizens rising after a long, brutal drought. And yet she knows exactly how easily those hopes can be dashed.

“Just that little bit of water is hope. But … even with a full dam, we may not have water in our taps,” says Conradie, a former financial adviser turned charity worker.

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Two hours’ drive from Cape Town , the town is the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding area, including the magnificent, but secluded The Hole in the Wall is one of South Africa ’ s most famous tourist attractions and Mdumbi beach has been voted one of South Africa ’ s best beaches.

Image caption More than half of South Africans live in townships. He adds that the radio station was born from his own frustration at the lack of support given to young people in South Africa , and the failure to make them heard on a national level. "The scariest realisation I had was that the young didn't

Even as a brownish pool of water has returned to the dam in the semidesert Karoo region, its pipes remain in disrepair and its walls crumbling — part of a municipal collapse in one of South Africa’s oldest towns that goes beyond the pressures of a drought that has lasted almost two years in the voter heartland of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC).

Many of Graaff-Reinet’s residents, faced with dry taps for months, have given up on the cash-strapped local municipality to distribute water and look instead to Gift of the Givers, Conradie’s charity, for boreholes and water truck deliveries.

Every day messages for help flood in via WhatsApp. “My phone is going mad — water, water,” Conradie says. A day care. A home for the elderly. A traffic cop who needs to wash her uniform.

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wikimedia list article. South Africa ' s cities and main towns .

Get out of the city and explore these charming small towns in South Africa – you're surely discover some hidden gems. Dullstroom is a fly fishing haven and one of the most popular Gauteng getaway destinations. The town is also en route to the Kruger National Park or the Blyde River Canyon, and

It would be a sad picture. Having a full dam and still carrying buckets to a water truck.

Corene Conradie, Gift of the Givers

Graaff-Reinet’s crisis is a metaphor for both the decay of South Africa’s state institutions in the past decade and a growing failure to recover under Ramaphosa, who took office almost two years ago vowing to turn things around.

In a state of the nation address on Feb. 13, Ramaphosa said his government was rebuilding “the capability of the state where it has been most broken” after a culture of graft under his predecessor, Jacob Zuma. “This year, we fix the fundamentals,” he said.

But Ramaphosa’s presidency has been overtaken by crises including that of the blackout-prone state power monopoly Eskom and fears that South Africa will soon lose its last investment-grade credit rating, forcing up the cost of its debt and further squeezing embattled businesses.

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Inside a small wooden hut Three hours away, in the town of Springbok, Nama speakers have been lobbying the government to have their language made an official language. Despite being historically widely spoken in South Africa , Nama is not recognised as one of the country' s 11 official languages.

South African small towns have so much to offer and are great for travellers on a variety of budgets. In fact, many South Africans are choosing to stay in South Africa for their holidays and explore off the radar towns away from the tourist hotspots.

Ramaphosa “has bigger fish to fry” at a national level, says Samantha Graham-Maré, an opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) member of Parliament and a former Graaff-Reinet councilor. “I don’t think he has a clue what’s happening in the small towns,” she adds.

The collapse of ANC-ruled Graaff-Reinet is a harbinger of what the future could hold for small South African towns, and with it, the South African state. Municipalities in financial distress almost doubled over the decade to 2018, to 125, nearly half the total.

This is leading to the disintegration of South Africa’s post-apartheid state at local level, throttling the economy and shifting the burden of providing services onto private actors such as Gift of the Givers and businesses.

“When you come down to the provinces and municipalities, it’s totally drifted far away. We are at a crossroads,” says Hento Davids, head of the Graaff-Reinet Chamber of Commerce.

Graaff-Reinet began Zuma’s rule as 2010’s South African town of the year, a mountain-ringed “Gem of the Karoo” with centuries-old houses and monuments. It remains a “beautiful town with all the potential,” in Davids’ words.

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But the town fell into decline, in part due to an ill-fated political merger with other towns that left Graaff-Reinet with large debts and diminished ability to collect revenue to pay for boreholes and infrastructure upkeep.

The town’s ANC mayor has rarely been seen during the crisis, residents complain. A spokesperson for Lindiwe Sisulu, the national water minister, says that “it is important to realize that while the natural elements resulted in the current drought since 2014, there is also a challenge of failing infrastructure at local government level.”

The municipality is “not sustainable. They must just leave it to collapse. They just don’t care,” says Joe Kroon, a farmer outside Graaff-Reinet. Kroon had to let three-quarters of his workforce go and watched cattle and prized game, a draw for tourists, die in the dust. Government drought relief aid has been so inadequate and ill-targeted that “it was like giving someone a T-shirt in winter,” Kroon says.

State Of The Nation 2020 in South Africa © Provided by Ozy State Of The Nation 2020 in South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives his the State of the Nation Address in Cape Town.

Source Brenton Geach/Gallo Images via Getty

Water supply is a local government responsibility, but neglect is entrenched at the national level, the opposition DA and civic activists argue. They have accused Sisulu of stuffing her department with ANC cronies to advance future ambitions to supplant Ramaphosa as party leader, at the cost of attention to drought-hit areas.

Sisulu declined to be interviewed about the plight of drought-hit towns, citing the need first to table a “master plan” for South Africa’s water security before Ramaphosa’s Cabinet. She denies the charges of nepotism.

When the master plan does arrive on Ramaphosa’s Cabinet table, it will make for grim reading. According to its estimates, the reliability of water supplies is at its lowest since 1996, despite expansion in provision since the end of apartheid. The plan says $60 billion is needed to repair decaying infrastructure over the next decade, but only $38 billion is available.

With junk status looming for government borrowing and no end to public bailouts for Eskom and other broken state firms, there will soon be even less fiscal room to help revive small-town South Africa, including Graaff-Reinet’s decayed dam. “It would be a sad picture,” Conradie says. “Having a full dam and still carrying buckets to a water truck.”

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