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Politics and inconvenience on a deserted Cape Town street

by Paul Vecchiatto, 14 February 2013, 17:31
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Adderley Street near Parliament in Cape Town is deserted on Thursday afternoon, ahead of President Jacob Zuma's state of the nation address. Picture: PAUL VECCHIATTO
Adderley Street near Parliament in Cape Town is deserted on Thursday afternoon, ahead of President Jacob Zuma's state of the nation address. Picture: PAUL VECCHIATTO

CAPE Town is less of itself than it would be on a normal Thursday afternoon. The main thoroughfare of Adderley Street is all but deserted, and the few ordinary citizens present appear to be in hurry to leave the city centre as quickly as possible.

Armed police officers are standing at almost every corner on the road as it leads towards Parliament where President Jacob Zuma is due to deliver this year’s state of the nation address. Meanwhile, at Parliament, throngs of very fashionably dressed people hang around, eating finger food and drinking bottled water and cool drinks as they wait for the start of the speech at 7pm.

Is this the stark contrast of government indulgence, inconveniencing ordinary people for its own convenience?

On this Valentine’s Day, usually one of the best days for Cape Town’s street flower sellers to do business, their market has all but dissipated and barricades keep back their customers.

Many other informal business people — those who depend on making some money in the day so they can feed their families in the evening — have seen their work interrupted. These include hawkers, taxi drivers and street vendors.

More established businesses such as bars, restaurants, banks, tour operators and so on have also seen a dip in their daily trade as the usual number of visitors to the city has dwindled in the face of a heavy security presence.

As I wait for the president’s programme of action for the year — to tell us how he will get the economy growing, how he will get job creation moving and how he will get grandiose infrastructure projects off the ground — I cannot help but feel there is a big disconnect between the government and the people.

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