Pretoria has traditionally been perceived as the Apartheid capital, a symbol of Afrikaner political domination and cultural pretension, the home of those benefiting from entitlement and political patronage under the previous government, and a city dominated by an arrogant public service.
In the context of the twin processes of political democratisation and economic globalisation, Pretoria has the potential to become Africa’s rising star. However, this will require a radically new approach to the city and its future.
Pretoria will need to build a new foundation for sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the greater Pretoria region. It must resolve its current identity crisis by adopting a bold and unifying new growth and development vision in which the city emerges as a place with something for everyone.
Like all South African cities, Pretoria faces some daunting challenges. The challenge that emerges most forcefully at the local level is to extend employment and services to the broader population at a time when domestic competition for public resources and private investment is accelerating.
Bold and courageous leadership will be needed to move beyond the current cautious mode of adaptive modernisation, which could gradually lead to Pretoria’s decline as one of the country and the region’s leading cities.