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The Continent’s Richest City is Falling Down

Johannesburg was built on gold, but it’s now defined by chaos, crime and corruption more than ever. It encapsulates the wider collapse of basic services across South Africa. From a broken railway network disrupting trade to archaic sanitation that triggered a recent cholera outbreak near the capital, Pretoria, parts of the country increasingly look like a failing state. Services and maintenance are the most visible casualty. Johannesburg needed $16.3 billion to build new infrastructure — power, water, sanitation — and make repairs, according to former Mayor Mpho Phalatse, who was voted out of office in January. The current administration plans to spend the lion’s share of its latest budget on “sustainable services” to help clear the backlog of improvements.