Is Jo’burg a World Class City?

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled recently that it was “misleading” for Jo’burg to claim it is a World Class African City. Harsh, or true? ZA Confidential sought the views of some of our experts….

Writer, speaker, diner, drinker and cigar buff David Bullard:

I have previously referred to it as a "Third World Class City" which is nearer the mark. The ASA were reacting to a complaint from a member of the public and I think they have ruled correctly. If you watched the prize presentation of the Tour de France from Paris last night, and then compare Jo’burg to a city like Paris…well it’s laughable. Our infrastructure in Jo’burg is in such poor repair that we look more like one of those recently bombed places in Syria. To pretend that Jo’burg is world class is delusional and, as the ASA ruled, deliberately misleading. A bit like saying that Zurich is flat and full of poor people.

Economist Chris Hart:

The payoff byline of the City of Johannesburg is clearly more aspirational than a reflection of reality. The ASA ruling emphasizes this in that the City of Johannesburg cannot claim that it IS a "world class African city". If the payoff line said "aspiring to be a world class African city" there would be less contention. The biggest problem with the existing payoff line is it fails to acknowledge certain obvious shortcomings as to current service delivery reality and what constitutes "world class". To become "world class" the City of Johannesburg needs to benchmark their service delivery effort against credible benchmarks and then meet those benchmarks. This would also constitute the cost effectiveness of that service delivery and the relative harshness of the tax burden.

Lawyer Emile Myburgh:

They probably meant that there are no criteria to determine when a city is world class and when it is not. Alternatively, they may mean that Johannesburg is not a world class city at all and that claiming that it is, is deceiving people. Either way, with the frequent water pipe bursts, electricity shortages, difficulty in getting rates clearances for transfers, it may still have a long way to go before it will be world class in the minds of the residents.

Branding guru Jeremy Sampson:

I guess one has to ask by what metrics was Jo’burg measured to deserve the
epithet ‘A World Class African City’? Sadly when cities are rated by such magazines as Monocle, African cities don¹t rate a mention. And then we have Cape Town, World Design Capital 2014. Now that’s something to be proud of!.


We all want Jo’burg to be world class, and delight in its African vibe. But there are genuine concerns about administration and service delivery, and it would be better to see solid achievements before the boasting begins.

Tweets of the Day:

Political Humor (@PoliticalLaughs): The Congress has just ordered a new missile for the armed forces. It’s called the civil servant – it doesn’t work and it can’t be fired.

Keith McLachlan (@keithmclachlan): Chuck Norris once had a fight with Superman. The loser had to wear their underwear outside of their pants.

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