RECENT

Two stories caught my eye in recent days, as I squinted frantically to avoid all mention of that wedding.  The first concerned shopping malls, and the other should have done.  It was about land reform.

The ANC big-wigs and shaved heads convened over the weekend to discuss land reform, aware that unless something is offered to the masses reasonably soon, a failure to act will make the ANC’s comfortable majority shrink like the contents of a Gupta Dubai safe if ever we get an extradition deal with the right Emir.

Like it or not, the ANC has painted itself into a corner on this one, and whatever impact it has on investor sentiment, land reform is coming.

So, whose land shall we free up?  I shall leave the issues of rural land to those brave enough to reconcile conflicting versions of historical ownership, and will instead seek to find ways of accommodating the urban homeless, of whom there are many.

One idea occurred to me as I read another headline - suggesting that the downsizing of troubled retailer Edcon may leave many a mall with unwanted vacancies.

So why not divide up these stores, install some proper plumbing and sanitation, and move in the homeless?

In fact, it would be unfair to just take over the Edgars, CNA and other Edcon stores.   The mall in Menlyn Maine has three supermarkets, including a Spar which does not seem to attract much business.   Its sister liquor store has been closed for renovation since before Christmas.  Let in the homeless, say I.  And there are many other malls where space could be found.

Given the need for us all to be healthier, we should also close all tobacconists, vape stores, fast-food outlets and ice cream parlours.   Shops which sell those nasty little coffee capsules are also on my personal hit list.

And the Woolworths outlets are surely becoming too pervasive.   If there are two stores within, say, a square kilmoeter, one should be emptied, and each aisle handed over to a deserving family.

And why stop there?   Surely there are too many malls in total?  And restaurants.  And petrol stations.   Why not have a well-planned mall cull?    If there are areas of the country with too many malls, empty half of them, and let the homeless in.

Somerset West seems to be all malls, as least when looked at from the highway.  Shut down a few malls, cover over the car parks, and there will be room-a-plenty.

Of course, our President could choose to lead by example.   He has official residences in Pretoria and in Cape Town.   Maybe he could stay in a B&B when in Pretoria, and allow the vast presidential compound there to be re-developed into low-cost housing.   The golf course would go, but if that means Trump is deterred from making an official visit to SA, it might be a blessing in disguise.

And then, there is Parliament itself.  Why is it still in Cape Town?  Shut it down, and move the MPs to an industrial estate, say next to ORT airport, and you could not only fill the building in CT with the homeless, you could also close a number of cloned government offices, which are only there because the MPs are there.

In the process, there will be dozens of large and comfy CT diplomatic buildings, which house their Excellencies when they attend Parliament.    Room there for several hundred more familes, I bet.

Of course, there are numerous other buildings around the country which were purchased or built with dodgy funds, be they in Nkandla or Saxonwold.  Seize them to make some more room for the needy.

All it takes is a bit of imagination, a bit of daring.  The demand for free housing is immense.   One could at least start to tackle the problem by getting a few ideas from the stories of the day.

Come on Cyril.  We are running out of time.




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