Times are tough in Johannesburg. People living and working in the city centre were without electricity for the first half of September. The jury is still out on mayor Herman Mashaba, who is part corruption-busting service deliverer, part xenophobic anti-poor rhetorician. We’re in that odd post-winter period when the first blush of spring has passed but the landscape is still bone-dry and dusty. Jozi’s skeleton is exposed and what we see isn’t pretty: litter, decrepit buildings, malls and waste. Above and beyond all this, of course, there is the national malaise — a political, economic and moral crisis that affects and infects everything. But perhaps there is something to be redeemed from our state of woe, precisely because it is shared by all compatriots. The traditional regional rivalries, the "don’t make your problems mine" attitudes are less convincing. Political assassinations and the battle for the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal? Not just a local concern. Mine closures in the North West ...

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