David Smith in the Guardian, 17 May 2011:
Why is South Africa still providing ‘apartheid toilets’?
How can a nation that builds five-star hotels and airports and hosted a successful World Cup still fail to provide decent sanitation?
… Like the Reverend Wright’s fiery sermons, or Gordon Brown’s “bigot” gaffe, unexpected bumps in the road can change the course of election campaigns, and so it is that televisions and newspapers in South Africa are full of images of toilets ahead of tomorrow’s local government vote. The image has come to symbolise the post-apartheid state’s continued inability to deliver electricity, running water, sanitation or housing to millions of people. It has left many wondering how a nation that can build five-star hotels and airports, host a successful football World Cup and enshrine human rights in its constitution can violate the basic right to defecate in private.
Toilets are the battleground between the two principal rivals for South Africans’ votes. The African National Congress (ANC), 17 years in power, has come to regard itself as the natural party of government with overwhelming support from the black majority. The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) – which controls Cape Town and claims it is the best-run city in the country – is striving to bury its reputation as the bastion of the white elite. First there was an open lavatory scandal in the DA’s backyard. Cape Town was condemned in a recent court judgment for building 50 unenclosed loos in the Makhaza section of Khayelitsha. The gleeful ANC claimed this proved what it had been saying all along: that the DA protects the privilege of Cape Town’s affluent suburbanites while kicking its township dwellers in the teeth. These were “apartheid toilets built by racist whites who don’t respect blacks”…