Tag Archive | cape town

Zonnebloem: Cape Town’s latest gentrification hotspot

(This article was published on 29 May 2016 in the Weekend Argus, a weekly newspaper published by Independent Media in Cape Town, Western Cape province.)

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Zonnebloem neighbourhood’s working class residents in Springfield Terrace flats feel threatened, claiming estate agents are pushing a new wave of gentrification on central Cape Town’s doorstep.


Springfield Terraces in Zonnebloem where residents say estate agents are lining up outside their doors to buy their apartments. PICTURE: YAZEED KAMALDIEN

An estate agent working in the area has confirmed buyers are interested, with an offer even coming through from a developer who wanted to buy up one of the nine standing blocks.

For some Zonnebloem residents, the current wave of gentrification feels much like apartheid era forced removals from District Six, just up the road from their homes.

Mary Wentzel, who was born in District Six almost 60 years ago, was forcibly removed from the area when she was a child.


Mary Wentzel says estate agents have offered her foreign currency for her semi-detached house that vows not to sell. PICTURE: YAZEED KAMALDIEN

Twenty-nine years ago Wentzel bought a flat in Zonnebloem. Now she feels like estate agents and property developers are pressuring them to move and make way for wealthier property owners looking to buy up spaces near the city.

“A few weeks ago an estate phoned and asked if I wanted to sell my house. I said no the rand is not good. And he said he could pay me in dollars,” says Wentzel.

“Estate agents were around here asking people if they want to sell. One agent came to my house and asked if I wanted to sell. I said no. Then he asked me who else he could go to. I said I don’t know.”

Wentzel says it was “mostly foreigners already bought apartments and they rent it out”.

And she is aware of gentrification’s effect in other predominantly working class coloured areas near the city: Bo Kaap, Salt River and lower Woodstock.

“I heard about what happened in Bo Kaap. Rich people are going to buy these houses and then how much will our children have to pay if they want the houses back?” asks Wentzel.

“This area is for our people. District Six was for our people. But people are unemployed and they will jump to sell. They are looking for money. But R1m is not a lot of money.

“I will never go out of here or sell this house. I’m used to living close to town. It will be a huge inconvenience to move. I will stay here until I die.”

Another resident, Berenice Rasdien, says she wants to sell her apartment but will do so only when she finds an alternative ground floor replacement in the area.


Berenice Rasdien says she will only sell her top-floor apartment if she can buy a ground floor apartment in her Zonnebloem neighbourhood. PICTURE: YAZEED KAMALDIEN

“I’ve got arthritis in both my knees and I cannot do the stairs anymore. That’s the only reason I’m selling. But I don’t want to move out of my area. I will only sell if I can buy another place in Springfield Terrace,” she says.

Rasdien’s sale boards went up after an estate agent came to their area. She says since the start of this year four of her neighbour’s sold and moved out.

Rasdien points out that new buyers are predominantly wealthier and white.

“People do sell a lot because buyers are investing in the area. Opposite the road from me a flat was sold. Semi-detached houses have also been sold. It’s all in this year,” she says.

“A German bought a flat and three other properties were also bought by white people. It’s mostly foreigners who are buying and they rent it out.”

Rasdien says quite a few neighbours – including herself – are resisting though to leave the area.

“Agents are coming to us. They are forever here. They are very visible in our area. They shop for properties,” she says.

“I don’t see the reason why people should sell. They should stay in the city. It’s nice. I love my neighbours.

“We can still look out for each other. And we still walk to town and Woodstock.”

Jarette Petzer, branch manager Beyers Realty Group in Woodstock, says there Springfield Terrace interests buyers “because of its close proximity to the city” and “stock is limited”.


Jarette Petzer is branch manager at the Beyers Realty Group and says demand for properties near central Cape Town has not slowed down. PICTURE: YAZEED KAMALDIEN

Beyers has a property for sale in the area and also handles a R9 000 rental.

“There’s a huge demand for certain parts of Zonnebloem, like the Springfield Terrace and Justice Walk. There is money to be made. Buyers are interested,” says Petzer.

Beyers is selling properties worth millions in focus areas, namely Woodstock, Salt River and Observatory “which is developing faster” than Zonnebloem, says Petzer.

“The moment we get some decent traction we will push harder in that area (Zonnebloem),” he adds.

Petzer believes property price climbs in even lower Woodstock – a traditionally coloured working class part of the city – is impacting along the corridor close to central Cape Town.

“Woodstock is by far getting the most attention now. Prices have pushed up a lot. We have seen a 40% rise in property prices,” says Petzer.

“It is getting a lot of attention because it looks European. It’s near the city and has views of the habour. Up to 80% of buyers are young professionals and predominantly Afrikaners.

“We have also seen a lot of German and Italian interest. They are all looking for a good deal to break into the market.”

Petzer adds: “As the money rolls in and places are painted, the value is lifting.”

He acknowledges the impact this has on locals.

“We are definitely seeing a trend. A byproduct of a successful property market is that rates go up. That has an adverse effect on people on the breadline. We are seeing a more predominant middle class moving into the area.”

Asa Rajap, admin manager at Beyers, believes residents in working class areas should sell their properties to “step up” and settle in the suburbs, further away from the city centre.


Asa Rajap from estate agency Beyers Realty Group says Springfield Terraces families who want to improve their lives should sell their apartments. PICTURE: YAZEED KAMALDIEN

“They need to think about making money. You have to move on. You may have to get up at 6am to get to town in the morning. But at least you will live in a nice area,” says Rajap.

She says Springfield Terrace residents have reacted negatively though to the agent’s efforts to seek properties for sale.

“When we sent an agent to door-to-door a lot of the community was unhappy. There were comments about ‘Don’t being the white people in here’,” says Rajap.

“We have a lot of investors interested in the area but the owners don’t want to sell. We can sell their apartment and find them a house in a nice suburb. We are there to get you out of the hole and make your life better.”


Yazeed Kamaldien

For almost three decades Faiq Rabin has owned a two-bedroom flat in one of the nine apartment blocks that comprise Springfield Terrace.


Faiq Rabin is chairman of the body corporate for two Sringfield Terraces blocks and says gentrification in his neighbourhood will push out low-income families. PICTURE: YAZEED KAMALDIEN

It is within walking distance from central Cape Town, making it prime property for developers seeking to gain ground where housing stock and land is limited.

Rabin was born in District Six from where he was evicted under apartheid’s segregationist law, the Group Areas Act.

Years later when Springfield Terrace apartments were built he could move back to the area he once called home.

“I am from central Cape Town and always wanted to live here. Twenty-three years ago I bought a flat here. This is where we want to be and where we want to die. This is our place,” says Rabin.

“The only thing is that it’s becoming expensive to stay here. Foreigners are buying in our area and our municipal accounts are going up.

“These places were built for the lower income group. Now 20 years down the line it doesn’t work that way. With the high rates, we can’t survive.”

Rabin adds: “You can imagine a low-income person whose expenses became double, how does he manage? I am concerned that our people can’t stay here anymore. It won’t be long before we will be moved out.

“With the Group Areas Act they (apartheid government) chucked us out. With this, people don’t realise what is happening. Where will we stay if we can’t afford to live in our houses? We are locals and we can’t afford to stay here.”

Rabin is chairman of a body corporate that manages two of the Springfield Terrace blocks. He says estate agents have approached various flat owners about selling their properties.

“We are getting notices in our letterboxes all the time asking if we are interested to sell. I’m from here and my roots are here. I was not interested to buy to resell when I came to live here.

“These were starter homes when we bought it. If we sell now, we won’t be able to buy another place near the city. We are also offered very little”

Rabin says news buyers are “people who normally don’t stay here”.

“We bought to stay here because of the community. People who are buying here now are doing it for financial gains,” he says.

“They are renting it out, with the knowledge that this is going to be valuable properties. It has a bad affect on the blocks if an owner doesn’t stay here. They have no interest in the flat,” says Rabin.

“Before we had body corporate meetings and all the owners were present. Now owners are not at meetings and don’t pay their levies on time.

“They are not interested in coming to meetings, painting the block or working with the body corporate.”

Rabin says the area’s demographic is changing and will likely no longer remain a predominantly working class coloured.

“There are some white people coming in here to live. But most white people who buy here don’t stay here. They are just buying as a business venture. The area will be upgraded. We know the government will do that,” says Rabin.

“We also had people who were interested in purchasing a whole block. Most of the units have been sold already in another block.

“One of the owners is a French guy and I manage the unit for him. I collect the rental for him. They really don’t have an interest in living here. It’s a monetary thing. They are investing and one day they plan to sell it for more.”

Rabin says rental at Springfield Terrace for a two-bedroom flat can go up to R10 000.

“Our people don’t realise what is happening to them. People don’t see what’s coming their way. People from outside are buying up our area. And it is already three quarters of the way in our area,” adds Rabin.

“If you go to Woodstock it’s all coffee shops. We can’t afford coffee shops. So for who are they building these coffee shops?

“This is a growing concern. At the end of they day they are moving in the higher income group and the lower income group are being moved out. We invested here but now when we are older we can’t stay here.

“If you look around in our areas, people are buying old buildings and putting parking bays underneath and building up.

“They build without consultation of our people. We are getting nothing out of it when people come in here.”



Small town Atlantis a hub for green innovation

(This article was published on 28 May 2016 in the Weekend Argus, a weekly newspaper published by Independent Media in Cape Town, Western Cape province.)

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Innovative renewable energy businesses in Atlantis are not only contributing to Cape Town’s green economy but also creating jobs for locals.

Atlantis is just under an hour’s drive from central Cape Town and is usually associated with poverty and accompanying social ills.

When Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille visited the small town yesterday, she met with renewable energy businesses to discuss their role in the energy eco-system.


Mayor Patricia de Lille with iSolar workers Jason Valentine (left) and Lezell Erasmus in Atlantis yesterday. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

Thirteen companies, all part of the South African Renewable Energy Business Incubator (Sarebi) in Atlantis, collectively received R500,000 from the City of Cape Town last year.

De Lille said assisting these businesses was part of a plan to ensure that locals could cope with Eskom’s power cuts and also save money by using renewable energy sources.

Instead of paying Eskom for electricity, locals could generate their own power at home via solar panel geysers, for example.

“Atlantis is an area that has faced difficult social and economic challenges, including high unemployment. Our support to this area underscores our commitment to building an opportunity city,” said De Lille.

De Lille said city officials have set up the Atlantis Investment Incentive Scheme back in 2013 to encourage businesses to open up shop and create jobs in the area.

Businesses are offered various incentives, including a reduction in electricity fees, when they open their doors in Atlantis, said De Lille.

De Lille said since 2013, “16 new companies have opened their doors”.

“At the same time it is estimated that more than 1 500 jobs have been retained by pre-existing businesses taking up incentives. There are additionally a number of exciting new investments in the pipeline,” she said.

Sarebi general manager Helmut Hertzog said they started in 2010 and since then have been helping up to 13 renewable energy businesses operate.

The incubator offers businesses space to produce their goods as well as a host of other business services and training.

Hertzog said the city’s R500 000 helped the small businesses improve their manufacturing processes, improve physical structures and fine-tune their operations.

Hertzog said the Sarebi was open to any people who have a renewable energy business idea in the Western Cape and who needed help to take it to the marketplace.

“We offer a three-month workshop where we focus on helping entrepreneurs define and cost a business concept. It can be a service of manufacture business,” he said.

“We help them get the concept sorted. Then there’s a six-month phase after that when the business is defined. It’s a structured series of workshops.

“We then help the businesses find clients and sell their product or service.”

One of Sarebi’s incubator projects, iSolar, has just won a tender to supply solar-powered geysers to the national energy department.

The company’s founder David October said they have already supplied solar-powered geysers to the Cape Winelands District Municipality. It has created jobs for 65 people, half of whom live in Atlantis.

“We will build 500 geysers a month for the department for the next 12 months. The department will install the geysers in various areas in the country,” said October.

“I have also completed geysers that were installed in the city’s Langa housing project. We build and install geysers and our contracts have been worth millions of rands.”

Documentary film festival expands beyond screenings

(This article was published on 29 May 2016 in the Weekend Argus, a weekly newspaper published by Independent Media in Cape Town, Western Cape province.)

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

After more than an hour of chatting with Darryl Els, the recently appointed director of the Encounters International SA Film Festival, one walks away feeling content that this 18-year-old is in good hands.

Els talks fast. He needs editing. But what he says is backed up with a track record of commitment to particularly independent filmmaking, which Encounters has always championed.

Cue: sigh of relief. Internal dialogue: this guy won’t mess it up.


Darryl Els is the recently appointed director of the Encounters documentary film festival. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

Els studied film and television at Wits University in Johannesburg, worked with award-winning director Rehad Desai who made Miners Shot Down and then went on to open up the Bioscope independent cinema in Johannesburg.

He started his new job last November, braving Cape storms, terrible drivers (you know especially when it rains it’s hell down here) and added a dash of ADHD to the festival. Like I said, he talks. A LOT. And fast.

“You have to stop me otherwise I’ll just keep talking,” Els says before getting back to his sandwich.

“My history with Encounters goes back ten years when I first attended in 2006 as a student. It was interesting with very intense discussions,” adds Els.

Then in 2010, when he opened the Bioscope with partners, Encounters asked them to host screenings.

“We had just opened. It was such a huge thing for us. We needed to tell people we were on the map. This helped,” says Els.

Els is still involved in the Bioscope but no longer its programming director. His focus in Encounters, which he wants to make more than just a two week gig.

Els wants to run Encounters events all year round. He wants the festival to be more than just screening films and talking about it. Then going home.

“There are different opportunities that you can create. You can create financial and relationship opportunities,” says Els.

To this end, Encounters has partnered with The Guardian newspaper in the UK to create a competition for short filmmakers. Storytellers can pitch an idea, with a cash prize and a possible commission to make a film for the newspaper’s website up for the taking.

Encounters has also for the last few years partnered with Al Jazeera to run pitching sessions for filmmakers who could get a commission to make a film for this Qatar-based news channel. These are tangible outcomes at Encounters.

Els wants audiences to walk away from the festival with “new experiences”.

“The Bioscope was a very creative space to experiment and introduce audiences to films that was never on their radar,” says Els.

“It showed that audiences want what they know but they also want to discover. If you went to the Bioscope you saw things that you never saw. It’s important to have that independent spirit.

“I see Encounters as an expanded view of non-fiction storytelling. The programme has moved beyond the cinema screen.

“This year we have interactive web documentaries, an electronic music band from the UK, a live documentary event that has poetry, live music and spoken word. Documentary films can often fit into any shape and form.”

Con-currently, Encounters wants to remain relevant to filmmakers in Africa. It wants to be a meeting place and a space where the filmmaking business grows.

For a local industry that struggles to find money to make films and with a national broadcaster that mostly fails its storytellers, independent film festivals can be a lifeline.

Actually, it gives filmmakers hope. It is a platform to connect with audiences and your industry.

“I’m always talking to filmmakers about the role that Encounters can play. We have created constructive spaces for conversation at the festival,” says Els.

Among these “frank discussions” will be case studies of African financial models of filmmaking.

Encounters will this year also see international film deal announcements, filmmaking master classes and, according to Els, “time for reflection on where the industry is at”.

“It’s all about the role that a film festival plays in an eco-system. Encounters has been around for 18 years. There’s a wonderful infrastructure to build on,” says Els.

Encounters is a ten-day documentary film festival that runs June 2 to 12 at Cinema Nouveau at the V&A Waterfront as well as The Labia cinema in Gardens.



Encounters will have a number of events apart from film screenings. It hosts Virtual Encounters, an exhibition of new forms of documentary storytelling. This will include Virtual Reality, web docs and games. It takes place in the American Corner at the Central Library in Cape Town and is free to attend. It runs from June 2 to 4.

There’s also a merging of audio documentary, electronic music and political statement from British contemporary pop band Dark Star on June 12 at The Assembly in central Cape Town.

Dark Star duo Aiden Whalley and James Young will transpose the central concept of the album, Foam Island, to a South African setting, recording the voices and experiences of young people for two live shows in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

African Space: The Live Documentary is meanwhile a live documentary storytelling in collaboration on June 8 at the Cape Town Science Centre in Observatory.

Danish journalist Rasmus Bitsch uses audio recordings, original interviews, live music and poetry to present a stage performance with renowned astronomers and townspeople of the Karoo.

More info on http://www.encounters.co.za



Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Michael Moore’s ‘Where to Invade Next’ will be screened for the first time in South Africa.

‘The Shadow World’, an international feature documentary on the arms trade based on the former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein’s controversial book.

‘Maya Angelou and Still I Rise’, a heart-breaking portrait of the achingly meaningful story that created one of America’s finest writers.

South African director Nadine Cloete’s poignant debut feature documentary on anti-apartheid student activist Ashley Kriel.

‘Strike A Pose’, a provocative documentary on the off-stage antics of the seven handsome back-up dancers who accompanied pop star Madonna on her Blonde Ambition World Tour in 1990.

‘Requiem for an American Dream’, the last full-length interview by one of the world’s most important intellectuals, Noam Chomsky, who gives a definitive and thought-provoking account of global inequality and how wealth and power has come to rest in the hands of the select few.

‘A Syrian Love Story’, which is a portrait of love against a tumultuous political backdrop. It’s the story of one man, the people he loves and the country that hates him. An intimate family portrait shows all is not fair in love or war.


Play unpacks Cape Town castle’s ugly past

(This article was published on 21 May 2016 in the Weekend Argus, a weekly newspaper published by Independent Media in Cape Town, Western Cape province.)

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Confronting the Cape’s history of conflict, a local writer-director has produced a play she believes will help South Africans reconcile.

Kim Cloete, using the Castle of Good Hope as a setting, has researched and gathered various voices to tell a story that starts before the arrival of Dutch settlers.

Cloete’s play has a lengthy title: Ausi Ama – Net toe jy dink dis klaar – Just when you thought it was over.


HISTORICAL TALE: A new play about the history of the Castle of Good Hope will have its premiere today. One of the play’s cast members Bradley van Sitters has worked to revive the language and history of the Khoi and San people with workshops at the Castle. Picture Supplied

It premieres at the Castle today and the play’s Dreamerschild Production team plans to stage it elsewhere in future.

Cloete said the play starts with the story of the Khoi and San people, the country’s indigenous population, almost wiped out by colonisation.

Working on the play ensured she became “a bit of a wreck”, she admitted.

“I found myself deeply traumatised by having to uncover and dig up parts of history that I wasn’t even aware of. That was a very gruesome time.”

During rehearsals, “when the cast had to do certain scenes, you walk away and you are troubled”.

“I did a lot of digging in archives. I spoke to people who know the history and it’s a very dark history,” said Cloete.

“This play is not a general history piece, but specially focuses on the events that happened at the castle. It contains a lot of omitted history.”

The castle’s board and the Defence and Military Veterans Department commissioned her, she said, to address the mainstream narrative that has excluded peripheral voices from archives.

“The Khoi and San have been disenfranchised. Very little was also recorded of women in the past. It was very patriarchal and it was men and their wars,” said Cloete.

“I have used history but also took creative licence with monologues of the characters. This is my personal embodiment of that time.

“It is time we accepted what really happened, without pointing fingers.”


Global business looks to Cape Town as African gateway

(This article was published on 14 May 2016 in the Weekend Argus, a weekly newspaper published by Independent Media in Cape Town, Western Cape province.)

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

International businesses are increasingly setting up shop in Cape Town, using the city as a base to expand into Africa while creating jobs for locals.

Company bosses who have made the city their temporal home praise its infrastructure and resources.

And apart from jobs, locals also benefit from new technology, global business know-how and there is a knock-on effect for local suppliers.

Garreth Bloor, the city’s mayoral committee member for tourism, events and economic development, says international companies basing themselves in Cape Town have over the last four financial years contributed an estimated R2.4bn in foreign direct investment into the city.


LESS BUREUCRACY: City of Cape Town councilor Garreth Bloor says city officials have gone a long way to cut out red tape to stimulate international investment locally. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

Over the same period, they have collectively ensured an estimated 6 448 jobs in an economy struggling to create jobs for a sizable unemployed population.

These companies are also based in various parts of the Western Cape and include electronics manufacturers, management consultancies and renewable energy operations.

At the Hisense South Africa head office in Canal Walk, the company’s general manager Youbo Li says they opened their factory in Atlantis in 2013.

Previously, Hisense electronic goods were exported to South Africa via its China headquarters. The company decided to manufacture TVs and refrigerators in Cape Town in its quest to conquer the African market.


MADE IN CHINA: Youbo Li, general manager for Hisense South Africa, says their goods usually made at home are now manufactured at a local factory in Atlantis just outside Cape Town. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

“We want to go global and we can’t escape South Africa. We want to export to the rest of Africa and Cape Town is our base in Africa,” says Li.

“Every year (since 2013) we are manufacturing 300,000 TVs and 300,000 refrigerators. This will increase as we have already exported to various African countries.”

Li says Hisense can be more competitive with pricing in the electronics goods market as they are avoiding import taxes. By making the goods local, they cut out delivery costs from China and create employment.

“We have created nearly 1 000 jobs for locals. This includes from the normal factory worker to logistics, warehousing, sales reps, call centres and after sales service. And we have staff at our head office,” he says.

Li says the company has also created “probably 3 000 indirect jobs”.

“This is because we have a lot of suppliers as well. We need rubber, glass and packaging from local suppliers,” he says.

Li believes the company has already impacted positively on Atlantis too.

“We used to have a big empty parking area at our factory in Atlantis. After two years, the car parking is filled with cars,” says Li.

“All the employees have bought cars, even if it’s basic cars. Now we need a bigger parking area.”

On the knowledge economy front, Cape Town’s universities play a role in attracting foreign companies looking for educated employees.

Rachel McLaughlin, local director of S-RM, a London-headquartered business intelligence firm, says it was for this reason they decided on Cape Town as a base in Africa.


BRAIN BUSINESS: Rachel McLaughlin, local director of risk consulting firm S-RM, says an advantage of having offices in Cape Town is access to top university graduates. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

“South Africa and Africa have always been important to our business. We advise oil and gas firms and help multinationals based in Libya or Nigeria. It made sense to have an African hub,” says McLaughlin.

“We already have a lot of Africa operations and have permanent staff in Ethiopia and Ghana. But Cape Town is our centre of gravity for Africa.”

McLaughlin says, for their company, Cape Town’s “main attraction is its role as a knowledge nexus”.

“In terms of building up an office, we are looking for young, bright, educated recent graduates. With Cape Town’s universities, it’s a great place for us to be based,” she says.

Most of S-RM’s 22 employees have been locally recruited and only are three from the United Kingdom. They “help clients understand and mitigate risks to their business”.

“One big department for us is our business intelligence department. It helps clients with background research and development on potential business opportunities,” says McLaughlin.

“The other side is risk consulting, with our team putting together risk solutions. If a big multinational is sending a senior executive to the DRC we might help them plan the journey and accompany them o make sure it all happens safely.”

McLaughlin says when they set up their office in Cape Town in February 2014 there were “some bureaucratic slow processes” but generally it was a “smooth experience”.

“South Africa is one of the highest ranking African countries for ease of business. Generally speaking, it’s been good,” says McLaughlin.

S-RM is also “enabling” international businesses to consider Cape Town as a base for their African expansion plans, adds McLaughlin.

“We are helping our clients invest in Africa and it is boosting the economy here in South Africa,” she says.

“Multinationals are realising Cape Town is growing and there’s a tech industry hub based here. It’s an exciting environment and magnetic.”


Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

To ensure international businesses have a painless transition from elsewhere in the world to opening their offices in Cape Town, local government is ensuring it cuts down on red tape.

Councillor Garreth Bloor, mayoral committee member for tourism, events and economic development, says foreign businesses first speak to their counterparts before considering another location.

Chinese companies, for example, are spurred on by successes such as Hisense, says Bloor.

This has led over 100 Chinese businesses expressing an interest in scoping prospects in Cape Town where the could set up manufacturing factories and other enterprises.

To ease the tension of doing business with Cape Town, the city’s Mayor Patricia de Lille late last year set up a one-stop shop in her office.


STUNNING SELL: This view of central Cape Town from the Wesgro offices apparently plays a role in convincing international business to settle in the city. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

Bloor explains this was to cut out dealing with a multitude of different government departments. It also offers businesses all the information they might need.

“We don’t want people who come here to invest to be referred back and forth. We want one place where they can have all their questions answered,” says Bloor.

“It’s best practice if you look at other global cities. We live in a world where cities are competing against each other.

“We have to put our best foot forward and get investors that translate into jobs on the ground.”

Wesgro is another entity that assists international businesses start their operations in Cape Town and beyond the city’s borders in other parts of the Western Cape province. It is funded by city and provincial governments.

Its chief executive Tim Harris says they annually seek out foreign investors in other parts of the world on trade missions.


FOREIGN CONTACT: Wesgro chief executive Tim Harris and his team is tasked by the local government to promote Cape Town and the Western Cape to businesses across the world. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

To this end, Wesgro has brought home companies like Kimberly-Clark, Burger King and others who now operate in Cape Town.

“We are attracting multi-nationals across sectors. We have companies making engine blocks for trucks right through to Amazon running a call centre out of Cape Town,” says Harris.

“Many global companies are interested in accessing opportunities in Africa. It’s easy to convince global talent to move to Cape Town. You won’t find this quality of life anywhere else in Africa.”

Wesgro’s head of investment promotion, Salman Kajie, says multinationals are choosing Cape Town “because of the core competencies on offer”.


COMPETENT CAPE: Wesgro’s head of investment promotion, Salman Kajie, says multinationals are choosing Cape Town “because of the core competencies on offer”. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

“When we interviewed multinationals who have a base in Cape Town, the reason for their choise was proximity to new domestic markets,” says Kajie.

“Industry also tells us they are here to capitalise off our growing middle class and export to the rest of Africa.”

Kajie says the majority of foreign direct investment in the city over the last decade has included businesses from Germany, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States. Asian countries are meanwhile fast catching on.

Retracing apartheid era footsteps in Cape Town

(This article was published in the Weekend Argus, a weekly newspaper in the Western Cape province, South Africa, April 3 2016.)

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Walking with younger comrades this week, Philip Kgosana showed his spirit still hungers for protest as he re-enacted a march he led against apartheid’s pass laws decades ago.

Kgosana was 23 when he was secretary for the Pan African Congress (PAC) in the Cape in 1960. On March 30 that year, he led an estimated 30,000 anti-pass laws protesters from Langa to central Cape Town.


LANGA LEGEND: Eighty-year-old Philip Kgosana was 23 years old when he led thousands of people in a march against apartheid’s pass laws on March 30 1960. This week he re-enacted the march from Langa, where the mural in this picture has been painted in his honour. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

It is a date and event hardly mentioned in anti-apartheid history and Kgosana said this was the result ANC’s alleged hijacking of that collective narrative.

At 80, Kgosana is now on a mission to cement this historical day with an annual “celebratory” march. He believes the PAC’s march was victorious as it led the apartheid government to “panic”.

Kgosana is also part of a movement to rename De Waal Drive, the road on which he led the march into the central Cape Town.

To this end, he met this week with Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille whose first political home was the PAC.


COMRADES: Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille (right) with Philip Kgosana. De Lille is a former member of the Pan African Congress and said there were talks to rename De Waal Drive in Kgosana’s honour. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

De Lille’s respect for Kgosana was evident: “I must call him tata (father).”

At her sixth-floor office in the Civic Centre, De Lille said the march Kgosana led was a “turning point in the history of our country”.

“Tata Kgosana led people to Parliament against the pass laws,” she said.

De Lille pointed out her PAC roots were still in tact, even though she left that party years ago to start the Independent Democrats and then joined the Democratic Alliance.

“The late father of the PAC, Robert Sobukwe, said he believes there is only one race and that is the human race. And that is what I still believe today,” said De Lille.

“Pan-Africanism recognises we are all Africans.”

She added: “We are recognising 30 March as part of our history. We need to keep it in our history books.”

Kgosana visited the building where he stayed in Langa in his younger days.

He also stopped by a sculpture and a mural in Langa, both marking the historic march and depicting him in the shorts he wore when he led the march.

“I had been authorised to give all direction (of the march) without being questioned,” he recalled.

“As we passed Groote Schuur hospital and climbing on to De Waal Drive we saw these columns of soldiers in tanks coming out of Simon’s Town to occupy the Parliament area.

“There were two helicopters over us, watching us. The SABC (TV news) was broadcasting the march, telling the Western Cape there is a column of natives coming out of Langa.

“That excited people to pour into Cape Town to see what was happening. By the time we reached here (the city centre) there were already 15,000 people waiting for us.”

Kgosana led protesters to the Caledon Square police station on Buitenkant Street in central Cape Town.

He eventually also dispersed the crowd and later the apartheid apparatus clamped down on him and others. This led him into exile for more than three decades in different African countries.


REMEMBERING HEROES: Members of the Pan-African Congress along with Philip Kgosana this week re-enacted the party’s historic march in Cape Town that led to a state of emergency during apartheid. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Political parties, including the PAC, ANC and the SA Communist Party, were also banned just days after March 30, evidence of its impact on the apartheid state.

But Kgosana and his PAC party comrades remained undeterred. They continued their campaign against apartheid.

“Our demand was a total abolition of the pass laws. We pursued that until 1986 when the pass laws were abolished,” he said.

After Kgosana re-enacted his march, later in the day he went to the Cape Town Club, opposite the Company’s Garden on Queen Victoria Street, where he met the son of one of the police officers who could have killed him when he led the march.

In the old colonial hangout started in 1858, with its paintings of Cecil John Rhodes and Jan Smuts, Kgosana remarked that it was an evening of “reconciliation”.

“We owe it to the generations that come after us. They must know it’s not just (Dutch colonial) Jan van Riebeeck that made this city,” said Kgosana.

Kgosana said he hoped to be back on the Langa-Cape Town route next year. Perhaps then more than the 60 people who joined him would show up.

“This is the first attempt at organising people to recognise that we are going to have this events. It’s not the numbers that count. It’s a thing in our hearts,” he said.

“Our people died. I recall a woman from Langa who wanted to reach Groote Schuur hospital because she was carrying a sick child. The police told a fellow who was driving (a vehicle with the woman) that there was a line he should not touch. He touched it.

“The police turned around and shot the child. We will tell these stories. Nobody tells these stories except ourselves.

“There is a series of victories we have managed, which we would like our people to be proud about.”

Comedian ditches race jokes, turns to green issues

(This article was published in the Weekend Argus, a weekly newspaper in the Western Cape province, South Africa, on March 20 2016.)

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Racial stereotypes often dominate comedy shows, seconded by stabs at politicians, but likely won’t feature when a local comedian abandons these overdone one-liners.

Cape Town-based comedian Nik Rabinowitz believes South Africans “don’t find that stuff funny anymore” when it comes to racial issues, which have in recent months taken centre stage in national debates.

His new show, Power Struggle, will instead focus on environmental issues.

“It’s the story of power through the ages. Not political power,” says Rabinowitz.

“I’ve put a lot of energy into political power. Now I’m putting my energy into energy.”

Rabinowitz has collaborated with a host of writers on the show’s script.


COLLABORATORS: Cape Town comedian Nik Rabinowitz with Daniel Kutner, the director of his new show Power Struggle opening at the Baxter Theatre on March 29. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

Power Struggle producer Sam Hendrikse has meanwhile connected the comedian with New York-based theatre director Daniel Kutner.

Rabinowitz says working with Kutner is a chance to “stretch” himself.

“I’ve been wanting for a while to add an international dimension to my stuff, which has been local,” he says.

Their intention is to produce a show that can travel beyond South African borders. It’s bound to also get audiences thinking about the environment.

“We get into buzzwords. What is global warming? Is that just a fancy name for summer?” says Rabinowitz.

“Ice caps are melting, polar bears are drowning, bees are dying. There’s all this stuff and a low level of anxiety.

“The idea was to create a show that looks at these issues but is also renewable energy. We want to promote these ways of using energy.

“I talk about all these things. I’ve done a lot of research on this show, on Wikipedia.”

For Kutner, this is the first comedy show he is directing. He explains the show is about a father thinking about the future of his child.

“This conversation about power starts with Nik being alone with his infant daughter for the first time when his wife goes to the book club,” says Kutner.

“There’s anxiety festering in him and he wonders what type of world his daughter would inherit.”

Hendrikse says he saw Rabinowitz a few years ago and now working with him wanted to “push it further”.

Hendrikse says he wanted to do something different, as since the start of democracy in 1994 the country’s comedic “content has always been the same”.

“It’s been race and do we need to have another show about how different we are?” asks Henrikse.

“I think most South African comedy is crap. It just reinforces stereotypes and issues we are trying to get past. This show is about bigger things.

“We live in a country where there’s load shedding, climate change, drought. If you are a parent these are things that are important to you. You are considering more than just yourself.”

Hendrikse says they want to take their show global too.

“We want to be in Japan, New Yorn and London,” he says.

Power Struggle runs at the Baxter Theatre from March 29 to April 16.