Just in case you have forgotten about Steyn City and all that it is, here’s a little background.
Douw Steyn owns Auto and General Insurance and is one of South Africa’s richest men, with a personal fortune of well over R8 billion. He left South Africa in 1992 to launch the Budget Insurance group in London. Steyn then returned to South Africa, shook hands with Nelson Mandela, and started the development of Steyn City in 2007, just outside of Joburg.
Before development started, Steyn and Mandela had a little chat and Mandela planted a bushwillow tree. Now, eight years later, Graça Machel patted the earth around that same tree and poured a drop of champagne onto the ground, just as her late husband would have done.
Trees, I think, celebrate much better his life, and his presence, perhaps better than a statue.
Steyn City is going to have cost a whopping R6,5 billion once it is fully completed. The city will have “1,000 acres of parklands, the most expensive house ever built in South Africa, a golf course from all-time great Jack Nicklaus’s design team and plans for two shopping malls, sports facilities, a school, a medical facility and a retirement village”. Sounds good, right?
There is huge worry by the EFF and critics that the estate will greaten the divide between rich and poor.
The spokesman for the Congress of South African Trade Unions, Patrick Craven, said: “It is almost a form of apartheid, not in a strictly racial sense, though in practice those who are the target of restrictions into certain areas tend to be black people”. Steyn City explains that properties available will range from single room apartments to multi-million rand homes and that a great diversity of people will be able to afford to live there.
The big worry stems from Steyn City’s location – just next door to Diepsloot, an area that is home to over 200 000 people. But Giuseppe Plumari, the chief executive of Steyn City Properties, has said:
The development is at the doorstep of Diepsloot. That’s the very thing we’re criticised for – opulence next to poverty – but that’s exactly where developments should be to empower people to get jobs, so they don’t have to spend half their salary on transport.
Gauteng premier David Makhura said at the opening on Tuesday “that those who criticised Steyn City as a place for the super-rich did not fully understand the bigger picture”.
An injection of the amount of money put into the provincial economy [and] in the country’s economy in the initial phase of development is more than R6bn. And the number of jobs already created has made a big impact on the economy. People from Diepsloot here can tell you that even before you get to the prime stage of development, 11 800 [jobs have been created].
Jobs or no jobs, Nelson Mandela planted a tree there and thought it a good idea, so that’s good enough.
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