NEVA MAKGETLA: Rural areas are still economic backwaters
From ridges in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, you can admire the sea of trees rolling out to the grasslands beyond.It shows how plants, water and gardeners can transform a few square kilometres into a green paradise.Twenty years after the end of apartheid, the rich have kept their own biosphere, set off visually and physically from where everyone else lives.
Too often, our economic policies are written as if these suburban streets were the norm, rather than the pinnacle of apartheid geography. The hard fact is that today, more than 20 years after the transition to democracy, your life chances are still shaped largely by where you were born — in a rich suburb, an urban township, or a rural slum set up as a consequence of apartheid’s draconian laws on residence rights.The bland global rhetoric of rural development and land reform often pushes aside these harsh realities. But SA’s countryside is like no other. It combines commercial farmland with areas to which people were deported before 1994. The former so-called "homelands" functioned as labour reserves, far from decent land and water as well as cities and for decades starved of infrastructure and social services. The data show how disadvantaged these regions remain. In 2015, only a quarter of adults had employment in the former "homelands" compared with half in the rest of the country....