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Cape Town Mayor Says Clean Government and Pro-Business Policies Are Keys to Development

A Conversation with Patricia de Lille

Speaker: Patricia de Lille, Mayor, City of Cape Town
Presider: Ann Cooper, Broadcast Director, Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University
July 8, 2014

Event Description

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille joins Ann Cooper of Columbia University to offer her thoughts on recent events in South African politics. De Lille explains her initiatives to improve Cape Town's physical infrastructure and service delivery as well as her efforts to promote the city as a business-friendly gateway to the rest of Africa. At the national level, de Lille discusses the problem of corruption in the current ANC-controlled government and her hopes that a viable political opposition movement will eventually emerge.

The Darryl G. Behrman Lecture on Africa Policy is held in memory of Darryl G. Behrman, who was originally from South Africa and had an abiding passion for Africa and international peace. The annual lecture is funded by members of the Behrman family.

Event Highlights

Patricia de Lille on the political challenges that remain in South Africa twenty years after its transition to democratic rule:

"The first five years of our new democracy under the leadership of Nelson Mandela did a lot of work around nation-building, around working to make sure that we work for peace and reconciliation. Now, reconciliation is not an event. It's not something that you can wake up one morning and say, 'I've now reconciled.' It is a process where we need to get the whole of the country involved. And where we are today is actually difficult to talk reconciliation when you have to deal with poverty, with inequality, when it's just a struggle to survive."

Patricia de Lille on her efforts as mayor of Cape Town to expand basic services to poor residents:

"We do a lot of cross-subsidization. With the rates that we collect from the very rich in Cape Town, we co-subsidize the poor people. We give 60 kiloliters of water—no, 350 liters of water free a day to the poor people. We also give 60 kilowatt of electricity free a day. I'm calling it free, but somebody still has to pay for it. It is just that, you know, the poor and marginalized, they can't afford to pay it. The city put in, in that money. So keeping that balance right—and you find that the higher-income bracket and people that we charge 30,000 rand a month who live in their own homes, they are prepared to pay, because we have good infrastructure, we keep the water running, you can have your electricity all the time, and that is the balance that we have to keep right."

Patricia de Lille on the ANC's electoral dominance and the challenges of building a viable political opposition movement:

"Now, as people begin to understand the role of opposition politics to hold government to account, that is where that will finally change the voting pattern in South Africa. I think after 20 years of democracy, there's still a big slice of blind loyalty vote, because the ANC brought liberation, which is also not altogether true—they didn't do it alone—and because if you look at the voting patterns now, the people above the age of 40, between 35, 40, up to 65, that is the bloc that's still voting ANC. And we can say—but, you know, in the face of all of this corruption and all of these things we see on a daily basis, why do people still vote? And therein lies the challenge that we have to build a strong alternative to the ANC. And I'm sure if we build that alternative, people will vote for that alternative."


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