The woman behind Cape Town’s transformation
As CEO of the Cape Town Partnership, Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana’s career narrative runs parallel to that of the Mother City’s revitalisation. She shares her story with finweek.
thecity of Cape Town is one of the continent’s cleanest and most hospitable metros, as well as one of the world’s best places to live, play and stay. Need evidence for this? British newspaper The Guardian and the US The New York Times both voted Cape Town top holiday destination for 2014 − the same year the city was declared World Design Capital.
Cape Town has it all − the pristine beaches, the natural beauty of Table Mountain and Kirstenbosch Gardens, the rich history of Robben Island, as well as the clubs, cocktail bars, coffee bars and world-class restaurants that win international awards. But the city that is Cape Town wasn’t always wonderful. Ten years ago, tour guides advised tourists against visiting the city centre, rather ferrying them to the commercialised harbour at the V&A Waterfront or outlying areas instead. Crime was commonplace, buildings were boarded up and stores were closing down.
Makalima-Ngewana recalls the urban decay: “People were being mugged at gunpoint all the time, there was no parking management system, the city was dirty and it looked like Durban.”