January 2017 Newsletter from Liz at Lancaster

2016 rushed to an end like a huge high-speed train on steroids so this newsletter comes with belated good wishes for 2017.  Although an eventful year globally and nationally to say the least, for Liz at Lancaster, it well went quite smoothly.


Derek Hanekom Minister of Tourism presenting the Provincial Award to Tagala Mlalzi and Catherine Mahlangu of Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse
Derek Hanekom Minister of Tourism presenting the Provincial Award to Tagala Mlalzi and Catherine Mahlangu of Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Catherine and Tagala attended the Department of Tourism Lilizela Awards ceremony in September where they were delighted to walk away with the Provincial Winner’s Award in the category of 4 star guesthouse.  We did not feel too bad losing out at national level as the winner, The Three Boutique Hotel, is a beautifully restored historic building with 18 rooms and a roof deck with panoramic views of Table Mountain and Cape Town City Bowl.  Liz at Lancaster’s garden setting is a little less glamorous!

We are delighted to have remained no 1 on TripAdvisor’s ranking of 279 B&BS/Inns in Johannesburg, a position we have occupied for over five years now. So a very big thank you to all those who have reviewed us over the years and those who haven’t and would like to you to, you can Click here


2016-09-18 16.26.58
Liz at Lancaster

Tagala (aka Mr T) has stepped into Zac’s very big shoes and fitted them perfectly. He runs his kitchen like a well-oiled machine, handles ordering and procurement of supplies with quiet efficiency, and awaits collection of guests at the airport with his recognizable marker:  his red peaked cap.  We no longer have a microbus for guest transfer but rather a Toyota Corolla sedan.  Catherine and Thandie continue to work marvels with their housekeeping and general caring attention to guests. Rose steps in on their days’ off.  And John who joined the business in late 2015 has freed up Liz greatly. He’s a whizz at sorting out technical issues and maintenance stuff (Liz hyperventilates at this part of the job). He works 2 days a week enabling Liz to spend more time with grandsons and he also acts as locum when Liz is away.  And last but not least: Alick’s green fingers and gentle touch keep flowers blooming and a lush garden at Liz at Lancaster.  A huge thank you to you all – our top ranking on TripAdvisor is due to your dedication to service excellence. Further value-added services and facilities at Liz at Lancaster include a great new DVD lending library (free of course) as well as installation of air-conditioning in our 3 studio flatlets.


Red city Bus 2
Red city Bus

Uber continues to be well-utilized by guests who have a Smart Phone and can download the Uber App.  It’s reliable, efficient and cost-effective.  Plus Uber has now added another App to their transport offering.  Uber Eats is easy to download and incredibly efficient.  It tracks the making of the food, departure of the courier and exact arrival time. So guests have accurate timing for meals and a large selection of restaurants to choose from.  And more exciting tourist news is that the Red City Hop-On Hop-Off Bus (an ideal way to get an overview of the city), now leaves from Rosebank on a Green Tour with various stops in the Parks region before joining the Red Tour at Constitution Hill.  This is yet more recognition of Rosebank as a major business and leisure hub.


While internationally 2016 is coming to be known as the ‘post-truth’ year, I think SA  2016 should be known as the ‘year of the interdict’.  It seemed that daily interdicts were being applied for, overturned, granted, withdrawn ….  or not!

It was Malema who supported Zuma to oust Mbeki in 2008. Source: News24.com
It was Malema who supported Zuma to oust Mbeki in 2008. Source: News24.com

The term ‘state capture’ came into popular discourse after SA’s 9/12 (9 Dec 2015), when Zuma replaced the well-respected Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene with an unknown failed mayor of an unknown small town in an appointment which lasted 4 days before Zuma was forced to instate Pravin Gordhan as Minister. See John Battersby’s excellent  article  which refers to the Gupta brothers’ probable involvement in the decision to replace Nene and the first major rumblings of state capture. While the more radical left (Malema and the Economic Freedom Front (EFF) – those of the eye-catching red workers’ uniforms in Parly)- reacted in 2015 to Zuma’s use of state funds to fund his private residence Nkandla with the effective  rallying cry #PayBacktheMoney, ‘Nenegate’ as it has come to be known, further incensed the middle class and business.  The ongoing unfolding of the Gupta involvement in state affairs led to another social media hashtag: #ZuptaMustFall – The EFF and Malema are very clever at creating catch-phrases which capture the popular imagination (as are other politicians to our north!).

Madonsela proved to be one of the many extraordinary South Africans who worked tirelessly, ethically and courageously in public office. She will be sorely missed. Source : ENCA
Madonsela proved to be one of the many extraordinary South Africans who worked tirelessly, ethically and courageously in public office. She will be sorely missed. Source : ENCA

Several court rulings during 2016 evidenced the turning tide against Zuma:  that he #PayBackTheMoney; that he broke his oath of office; that dropping Zuma’s corruption charges in 2009 was irrational; and in November a court ruling instructed the Office of the Public Protector to release the State Capture Report prepared under huge time pressure by Thuli Madonsela in her last months in office as Public Protector. (It was being withheld by the new Public Protector- a Zuma follower).  With the State Capture Report on the Gupta’s involvement in state affairs mentioning the President, ministers, cabinet members and hundreds of different entities, the fallout has barely started. The climate of discontent with the ruling party resulted in its very poor showing in the August local elections with the ANC losing 3 major metro municipalities – Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth); Pretoria; and Johannesburg – to the opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA). However the 2017 will see whether Zuma reshuffles his Cabinet to ensure he and his backers have more allies in the most important positions of power.  2017 will also be dominated by the succession battle for the new ANC leader who is to be elected at the party’s national conference in December 2017 (prior to the country’s general elections in 2019).

Source: Ashraf Hendriks Daily Maverick 30 Sept 2016
Source: Ashraf Hendriks Daily Maverick 30 Sept 2016

And finally as a symptom of the wider climate of discontent, the #FeesMustFall campaign at Universities with the major disruption and violent flare-ups including destruction of property, resulted in devastating polarization amongst both staff and students.  The initial cry of #FeesMustFall became absorbed into wider calls for transformation (of staff demographic); decolonizing the curricula and institutional context; and stopping all outsourcing of cleaning and maintenance staff. It was an extraordinarily stressful time for those who kept Universities open and ensured that students (the majority by far) who wanted to complete the academic year, did.  I know if I had still been teaching I would have been one of them but I am extremely grateful that Liz at Lancaster was my focus.


And after all that somewhat negative news from SA, there is also good news. Steuart Pennington fascinating and revealing summary of the 2015 South African Institute of Race Relations Report makes for fascinating reading.  Read here He compares where SA was in 2015 (little outdated but nevertheless enlightening) with where it was in 1994.  As he says – these are stats and facts which don’t make the news headlines.


Johannesburg IYP routes
Johannesburg in your pocket

Liz continues to communicate what’s happening at the guesthouse and in Johannesburg through TwitterFacebook; and blog posts.  To get notifications of new blog posts (a couple a month) see the ‘subscribe to our blog’ button at the bottom of  this page.

And the amazing Johannesburg In your Pocket booklet continues to be available at Liz at Lancaster for guests to read and take away with them.

We hope that we will connect with many of in the upcoming year. Thank you for your on-going support and if you have not stayed with us, we hope that when you next enquire we will have ‘room at the inn’ for you. There is one thing that is for certain – 2017 is sure to be another roller coaster year for South Africa and indeed for much of the world.

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