07 September 2013, Johannesburg – Johannesburg’s claim of being ‘Africa’s world-class city’ has always been a little contentious, but the current unprotected strike by employees of City Power, which includes allegations of sabotaging the power grid, throws a substantial dollop of fat into the fire.
“A world-class African city”, claims the city of Johannesburg’s branding. While raising the question of whether “world-class” and “African” are mutually exclusive, the city’s marketing campaign also invites probing on what it means to be a world-class city.
Is it an ambition or a statement of fact? And if it is indeed a statement of fact, what is that essential thing that sets Johannesburg apart?
Certainly, Johannesburg’s current combination of problems, which range from billing chaos, housing shortages, violent crime and striking City Power employees, does dent its reputation.
One definition of “world-class” explains the phrase to mean, “Ranking among the foremost in the world; of an international standard of excellence; of the highest order or, being great, as in importance, concern, or notoriety”.
And while discussions about Johannesburg, its history and current trajectory stand the danger of turning into heated debates, at the core of these discussions about Johannesburg’s status are simple questions.
– Khadija Patel, Daily Maverick