Mzansi Afrika

From Johannesburg South Africa, a window on the world

Friday, December 10, 2004

This and That

My apologies for the lack of blogging lately, guess I've been infected with holiday season "laidbackness." Although I'm not on holiday yet - one more week to go, can't wait.

The Head Heeb has a fascinating round-up of the last remaining outposts of settler "colonisation". Although Israel is most widely known, there are eight other occupied areas remaining, many of them in Africa, but also including West Papau and Turkish Cyprus.

"Populating conquered territory with settlers is a tactic that may be as old as warfare. All the ancient empires practiced it; one Assyrian attempt at demographic engineering led to the legend of the lost tribes, and Roman coloniae played a crucial part in the Latinizing of the Mediterranean world. Modern empires continued the practice, on a grand scale in the New World and Australasia and a lesser scale in their other colonial domains. For millennia, the logic of settlement was irrefutable: once a territory was full of your people, it was yours. Settlement fell into disrepute after the Second World War. As an international consensus developed against the acquisition of territory through conquest, the prohibition of international law was extended to measures that make conquests more difficult to redress. Settlement of occupied territory - i.e., territory under the effective control of a country but outside its recognized borders - has therefore been banned by Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and is defined as a war crime." (More at The Head Heeb)

Moving right along, Wayne at Commentary has a very good analysis of the financial report of Johannesburg city. He says things may not be as good as they seem on the surface.

"The R339 million net operating surplus for a muncipality is firstly not the same as a headline net profit for comparable sized companies. There it is not regarded as prudent to capitalise profits from the sale of properties (R66 million) - as those are regarded as capital profits and not part of the core operations (in this case providing municipal services). Government subsidies of R181 million, while a windfall, should also not be included if trying to assess the peformance of the council, and whether it ultimately creates or destroys value." (More)

Staying with issue of economic development in Gauteng, Mondays edition of The Sowetan ran an article about Soweto being a developers dream. I'm just wondering why it's taken so long to realise this, or perhaps developers were waiting to see how the economy would go before jumping in, but either way I think this is really good for long-term growth.

Soweto is to be the beneficiary of a multi-million rand makeover. Development is to be a public-private partnership and will include a 14 story office complex, and high income housing developments with price tags of R1 million. Also planned is the Diepkloof Neighbourhood Centre - a R60 million project which aims to transform an 8 hectare piece of land, presently occupied by informal residents into a suburban style neighbourhood with a major shopping centre and a new home for Hospice Soweto.

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