It’s capitalism over culture for Amazon

Amazon is planning to convert the River Club development site in Cape Town into its Africa head offices. The problem? The site is considered sacred by some Khoisan communities. Legal battles are now underway to stop Amazon from “paving paradise to put up a parking lot”. Observatory Civic Association (OCA), an NPO in the Observatory region, has written to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos but received no reply. You and the rest of Amazon’s workers, OCA. At least you guys don’t have to pee in bottles. 😬

They’ve even tried writing to Mackenzie Scott, Bezos’s ex-wife, to convince him to not go ahead with the plans. They might have better luck there: Scott became the one of the richest women in the world when she left Bezos and has made it her mission to give away his money. 

Meanwhile, we’ve got questions for the City of Cape Town. It has a history of being a little too welcoming to private property developers at the expense of the poor and vulnerable. There were the controversial evictions in Bromhof Street, Woodstock, plus the ongoing gentrification in areas like Bo-Kaap. Booming property prices have pushed up rates, slowly forcing out the historic Cape Malay population, who cannot afford them. 

Property development company Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust said it’s important that the Amazon offices are built, saying several thousand jobs are on the line, but we think there has to be a better way. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 15 April 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates