If you were glued to the screen watching Cyril Ramaphosa deliver his second SONA speech of 2019, you would have been rewarded for your interest shortly after 20:00 – the president decided to announce that he wants South Africa to build “a new city” during the next 25 years of democracy.
With nothing mentioned about SABC, SAA or any particular analysis on how land expropriation without compensation would work, Cyril’s segue into his own imagination was pretty off-the-wall. Yet it was completely on script, judging by the document he had prepared:
“We have not built a new city in 25 years of democracy. Around 70% of South Africans are going to be living in urban areas by 2030. The cities of Johannesburg, Tshwane, Cape Town and Ethekwini are running out of space to accommodate all those who throng to the cities.”
“I dream of a South Africa where the first entirely new city built in the democratic era rises… Has the time not arrived for us to be bold and reach beyond ourselves and do what may seem impossible?”
A new city for South Africa? Not everyone agrees with you, Cyril Ramaphosa
Julius Malema is not impressed. He has poured scorn on the plans. He was perplexed by talk of a new city, and instead suggested he improves the quality of life in already-existing metropolises. However, Patricia de Lille remains much more optimistic – which you’d come to expect from the Minister of Infrastructure and Public Works.
“We must stop squeezing people in between the mountain and the sea”, de Lille told the media on Thursday night. She claims that plans to build a new city are entirely manageable, and it would be formed in the same way Canberra, Australia was. The purpose-built city has only existed since the mid-1900s.
Okay. We’re going to humour the president and the minister. We’ve had a quick think and decided on four places where we’d like to see a new city spring up from. We probably won’t be getting the call from Cyril any time soon…
A new city in South Africa: Where could it go?
Somewhere, anywhere, in the Northern Cape
The Northern Cape is a fascinating place: Extremely vast, yet sparsely populated. The province would have to be one of the top candidates to host a brand new South African city. The debate about flattening Orania or Eureka to make way for a non-racial, multicultural city would also be a lekker source of blockbuster entertainment, too.
A new city between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth
It’s a near 10-hour drive from the Mother City to Port Elizabeth. Cape Town is wonderful and all that, but it needs a friend. The Western Cape boasts some of the most wonderful towns in the country, but it must suffice with just one city. The province needs a halfway point bigger than George, or something nice up the West Coast.
Give Polokwane a sister-city, like Johannesburg and Pretoria
The Johannesburg-Pretoria dynamic is pretty unique in Mzansi: They are the only pair of major cities you can drive to within an hour. We were looking at where else would benefit from twin metropolises, and we reckon Polokwane, Limpopo is in with the best shout.
South Africa could build a thriving new city in a part of the country that borders three different countries. It could act as a gateway for international travellers, and an additional destination for Kruger National Park visitors to tick off the bucket list. Unfortunately, we haven’t got round to naming our new city – we’ll leave that to the professionals.
Let’s have an island city
You may not know this, but there are some pretty cool islands that belong to South Africa. We’re thinking something like Hobart, Honolulu or even Ibiza – sod the 10-hour plane journey, let’s get the rave on in our new purpose-built party central.
However, none of them would be big enough to fit something the size of a metropolitan area on. The best chance we’d have in terms of surface area would be our overseas territory of the Prince Edward Islands – but that’s 1700km away, near the continent of Antarctica. Well, it’d be different…