Quiet Diplomacy

The decay of inner cities, and then the sudden interest in them by forward-thinking property investors, is probably a micro-economic form of quiet diplomacy.

Port Elizabeth Central is a prime example. An Irish property magnate, Ken Denton suddenly starts buying up prime Central property some years ago, many of the houses national monuments. He had seen the rejuvenation of inner cities in his hometown of Dublin and many other European cities. One small problem, this is Africa boet !! His idea was great, but his timing was way off.

For reasons known only to him, he then allows them to fall into a state of severe decay, instead of just accepting his timing gaffe and moving on. Many of them are stripped of beautiful brass fittings, plumbing, doors and windows. They are broken into and occupied by drug-dealers, prostitutes and pimps.

Because of the pure volume of his holdings, the entire area falls into a general state of squalor. Now Mr Denton is, by no means, the only local investor who can afford to buy and restore these fine old buildings. So where then, are these investors? Why haven’t they stepped in and started buying and restoring? Is it only the DA that cares? Why has the Municipality needed to be literally forced to take action?

I’ll tell you why. There are sinister forces at play. And yes, they are free-market forces. These investors (vultures) are waiting for the right moment for the rotting carcase to be just right for the picking. They are practising what is called “quiet diplomacy”. Making the right (slightly muted) noises when asked their opinion, but secretly planning the exact moment of attack. And do you know what? I think this moment is imminent. These prime properties are going to be snapped up for a song, millions are going to be spent on renovations and these investors, because of their patience and foresight, are going to make astronomical profits.

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Good for them. This is how the market works, but hey, haven’t we heard this word, “quiet diplomacy” before? Of course we have, we use it to describe our country’s policy towards Zimababwe and that despot Mad Bob Mugabe <spit> <spit>.

And guess what? The result will be the same. When Zim eventually implodes, guess who will come riding in on the white (am I still allowed to say that) charger? South Africa. Zimbabwe is a fantastic country with immediate tourism potential, medium-term agricultural recovery and plenty of mineral resources. We, as a country, will reap the benefits of our “quiet diplomacy”, but I grieve for the hundreds of thousands of deaths, the tortures, rapes, famine and desperation. But most of all I grieve for the children, hungry and scared.

But hey, cheer up, that’s how diplomacy works.

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