When South Africans tell a tale of two cities, it is almost always a story about Johannesburg and Cape Town. It used to hinge on the rather tedious rehearsal of simplistic binaries: work versus leisure, urban energy versus natural splendour, new money versus old money, transformation versus stasis.

Nowadays all of these are contracted into comparisons on the grounds of municipal management and infrastructural maintenance. The Joburg narrative is all decline and despair, coalition and corruption; Capetonians, by contrast, enjoy the stability and relative efficiency of their provincial and local governments...

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