Residents of this coastal city of 4 million have begun stockpiling bottled water and lining up at natural springs. The reason? Cape Town, a global tourist destination and South Africa’s second-largest city, may soon switch off its taps. Dams are running low in the midst of an extreme three-year drought, one that has been compounded by extended delays in new infrastructure investments. “Day Zero” — the date when officials plan to shut down the municipal supply and start dispensing rations from some 200 collection points — is now expected to arrive in June, a month after the winter rains usually begin.
China’s influence in Africa goes so deep that African leaders are starting to shape their own agendas after China’s. In February 2012, South African President Jacob Zuma gave his “state of the nation” speech in Cape Town, but he might as well have been in Beijing. “For the year 2012 and beyond,” he said, “we invite the nation to join government in a massive infrastructure development drive.” By October, Zuma was vowing $100 billion in Chinese-style infrastructure investment to help create jobs. In welcoming Xi Jinping, China’s new president, to South Africa last month for a BRICS conference, Zuma gushed, “We view China’s success as a source of hope and inspiration.” Apparently, he also views China as a model for his country’s development.