Joburg's new regime

David Bullard writes on the ascent of an Al Jama-ah councillor to head the metro


Living down here in the civilised bubble of the Cape Winelands one tends to forget the mess the rest of the country is in. For example, last week the roads agency started work on a stretch of road between my home and one of our more popular shopping centres in Somerset West.

We have, in the past, had rapid response to any potholes that needed repairing after heavy rains but this time around it is a major operation with all sorts of heavy machinery tarring and resurfacing the road after laying a substantial foundation to prevent it from deteriorating during the rainy season.

The traffic is on a one way system which adds to the journey time when parents are taking kids to school but it is efficient and well managed and most drivers just give a wave of thanks to the staff manning the traffic flow. 

At least we know that the project won’t be abandoned due to a dodgy tenderer or lack of funds and the work will be finished on schedule and we will have a new, smooth road to travel on replete with newly painted lines and adequate signage. Long may this level of municipal efficiency last.

Talking to friends who have returned from both Johannesburg and Durban recently one can only weep for both those once great cities. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

Both appear to be damaged beyond repair with no obvious desire on the part of those ostensibly running them to do anything about it. Report backs from Johannesburg are particularly disturbing in the light of the recent political changes that have taken place there.

DA Mayor Mpho Phalatse, who struck me as a very sound choice, has now been ousted twice which tends to support my view expressed a couple of weeks ago that coalitions are a disaster zone for SA politics at a provincial level and would be even more so at a national level.

The problem in SA is that many of those posing as political parties are little more than criminal enterprises with only one aim in mind…..to get their grubby hands on other people’s money.

Any promises to bring a better life to the people or to eradicate poverty and create employment are just empty words and unbacked by any convincing strategy to achieve said aims.

Fortunately for them the criminal gangs posing as political parties have a largely uneducated and economically illiterate electorate to appeal to and these simple folk are likely to believe anything a dodgy political leader tells them. Hell, the scam has worked well for the past 28 years so why should anything change now?

The newly elected mayor of Johannesburg (thanks to ANC support), arguably South Africa’s most important city, is Thapelo Amad, a man who it can truly be said has risen without a trace. The party he represents is the Al Jama-ah party which barely scraped 17 000 votes at the last election and holds only 3 Johannesburg City Council seats. I’d never heard of the party so a quick Wikipedia check was in order:

“The party aims to support Muslim interests and uphold Sharia law. The flag of Al Jama-ah depicts a white gim (ج, the first letter in its Arabic name), upon a field consisting of the other Islamic colours.”

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with supporting Muslim interests although I’m not sure how well this Mayoral appointment has gone down in Glenhazel and amongst the wider Jewish business community in Johannesburg. However, it’s the upholding the Sharia law bit which should be ruffling the feathers of the province’s drag queens.

Sharia law, when applied in its distilled form (which it mostly is), tends to be a little intolerant of some of the things the decadent west has come to take for granted.

For example, gays don’t fare too well under it, and the religious teachings suggest that stoning them to death is the correct way to handle the problem. For this reason you don’t get many LGBTQIA+ alphabet soup activists going out to places like Iran, Sudan or Afghanistan to demonstrate for their human rights. I don’t see much hope for this year’s Gay Pride march in Johannesburg.

Similarly, fornicators and adulterers (of which there may still be a few left in Gauteng) are also under the whip and can expect 100 lashes on the first offence and a stoning on all subsequent offences.

And it’s no use whimpering that you’re not a Muslim so you should be let off because under Muslim rule everybody falls under Sharia law. Can you imagine the chaos if it were not so? Hundreds of fornicating infidels living the good life while the faithful had to be beyond reproach. Not going to happen is it?

Then there’s booze. Only a few weeks ago the hosts of the Football World Cup banned alcohol at the event. The Muslim faith, Sharia law and bottle stores and bars do not make good bedfellows. Does the new mayor have the courage of his religious convictions I wonder and will he be ridding Johannesburg of the demon drink?

Then there are all those lithe, latex clad, yummie mummies emerging from Sandton gyms mid-morning before popping off for a vegan lunch somewhere. I assume they will be ordered to cover their heads while on the treadmill and to dress more modestly in the journey to and from the gym. Maybe Thapelo is just the man to tackle the scourge of Gender Based Violence head on.

In media interviews Thapelo Amad, while noticeably light on detail as to how to solve the many problems of the crumbling city of gold, did promise that people would see a difference in 100 days. Whether that’s a good difference or a bad difference remains to be seen.


One of the problems we do have down here in paradise is something called the borer beetle or, more precisely the Polyphagous Shot Hole borer (Euwallacea fornicatus).

Last week an infested tree was found on a private property in Newlands which is a huge cause for concern to the City of Cape Town’s Invasive Species Unit because they had hoped to contain the spread of the borer beetle to Somerset West where it has already caused damage, including to a very historic oak tree on the Vergelegen estate.

The beetle is only about 2mm long but still manages to drill its way into a healthy tree and lay eggs. The beetle itself doesn’t kill the tree apparently; it is the fungus it carries with it which is its main source of food. The only solution at the moment is to cut down the infected tree, burn the wood and sanitise the area.

Unfortunately the borer beetle has an appetite for all sorts of species of tree including London plane trees, Japanese maple, Chinese maple, pin oaks and English oaks. Infection of the latter would be a disaster for a town like Stellenbosch.

If you think about it, the borer beetle (Euwallacea fornicatus) is very similar to the ANC (Luthulius fornicatus) in that both are invasive, both destroy whatever they invade, both are well nigh impossible to control and the only solution is a rather drastic one.


Pretty soon what remains of the South African navy will be joining Russian and Chinese ships off the Indian ocean coast for Exercise Mosi II with the declared aim of sharing “operational skills and knowledge”.

I’m not sure what our navy consists of these days but anecdotal reports suggest that we don’t have any functioning submarines and that we might have a functioning frigate if we’re lucky.

As for the sharing of operational skills and knowledge I suspect that might be a case of one way traffic. I’m not sure the Russians and Chinese have much to learn from a third world country that can’t even keep the lights on during the day.

However, the fact that we appear so welcoming to the Russian military and that these exercises will be held on the first anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine hasn’t gone down well with many people, the US included.

Naledi Pandor has, however, staunchly defended our chumminess with Russia and basically given the middle finger to those who don’t like it.

Last Wednesday was Burns night and over a few nice peaty glasses of Islay malt the whole SA/Russia thing suddenly started to make sense.

Obviously we lose nothing if we behave like international pariahs and upset the NATO countries and the US because, let’s face it, they’re not going to attack us. Besides they’ve sent most of their weapons to Ukraine and that is where their attention is focused for now.

On the other hand, if we upset Russia we could jeopardise the medical care of many of our most loved politicians (particularly those who have been poisoned).

If we really upset Russia they may decide to test one of their “faster than the speed of sound” missiles on us and that wouldn’t be good news at all. In addition, it’s just possible that Mother Russia may be able to help out with our power shortages by finally clinching that deal on the nuclear power station that we heard so much about a few years ago.

It’s all very well for the chattering classes to get all uppity about our cosy relationship with Russia but beggars can’t be choosers and, believe me, we really are no better than beggars these days.