South Africa

Cape Town: A nation of two cities

Cape Town A nation of two cities

Cape Town is a representation of South Africa’s growing inequality gap.

Well done to the City of Cape Town for successfully pioneering their “cash for power” scheme, where commercial businesses and private households can sell their excess power – generated from photovoltaic panels – to the metro.

Since the 2022-23 fiscal year started, mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis announced that more than R26 million was paid to those who are part of the programme.

At the time of the announcement, there were a total of 1 461 sellers (869 residential and 592 commercial) who were benefitting, and whose efforts are ensuring that the city is minimising its reliance on unreliable Eskom power.

While in Cape Town two weeks ago, I visited not only the affluent parts of the city, but the townships and far-flung dorpies as well, and noticed what has been a glaring issue for decades: a tale of two cities.

Those privileged enough to live in leafy suburbs and well-off areas continue to reap the most benefits, such as pothole-free roads, bicycle lanes, endless amenities and visible policing.

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I caught the train from Cape Town station and hopped off at a few stations along the way, just to see how the other half of Capetonians are getting by.

In Nyanga, Langa, Mitchell’s Plain, Khayelitsha and Gugulethu, life consists of hardships as residents cannot afford to buy solar panels for their homes, let alone the once-off R12 850 for the Advanced Metering Infrastructure meter they would need, if they wanted to sell their excess power to the city.

So I am not sure where these low-income earners are supposed to get the funds? Maybe the local loan sharks who are willing to break a few limbs if they do not get back their 40% interest loans.

My train ride also took me to Fish Hoek, via Salt River and other less wholesome parts of Cape Town. I went as far as Kommetjie and Capri Village, where just the thought of making money from the city is a foreign concept.

Unfortunately, Cape Town is a representation of the entire South Africa, where the minority are the ones who continue to thrive, while the majority are still faced with back-breaking difficulties.

As a nation, our most important short-term goal must be making sure that we leave no person behind as we make advancements such as Cape Town’s innovative “cash for power” programme.

If not, solar panel theft will soon be on the increase and there will be solar panel insurance and gap cover, as the have-nots devour the haves.

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