Real set­tle­ment still in doubt

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

Tin doubt.

HERE is a point on the scale of ur­ban life

where the – al­ways rel­a­tive – free­dom to

choose how and where to live ends, giv-

ing way to pol­icy di­rec­tives and mu­nici-

pal de­ci­sion-making.

For the fam­ily from Park­town, mov­ing to

Pinelands is a com­plex, costly af­fair which - job or

jobs, hous­ing and school­ing hav­ing been as­sured –

gen­er­ally goes ahead un­hin­dered.

Mid­dle-class mi­gra­tion is un­ex­cep­tional, be-

cause the mi­grants’ self-suf­fi­ciency de­fines their

free­dom of choice. The dif­fi­culty for any city is how

to man­age those who are not self-suf­fi­cient enough

to trek and set­tle in the cer­tainty that their translo-

cation will mesh in­vis­i­bly and seam­lessly.

City au­thor­i­ties must in­ter­vene – and are com-

pelled by law to do so – to man­age the twin chal-

lenges of pop­u­la­tion growth and de­pen­dency.

This is the theme of our re­port on the Wol­w­erivi-

er re­lo­ca­tion camp in­hab­ited by peo­ple who, un­til

five months ago, lived near and lived off the Visser-

shok dump.

If they have been re­lieved of the en­vi­ron­men­tal

risks of their old life, their new life has all but de-

prived them of food and in­come. The city ar­gues

that they are now liv­ing within a fu­ture growth cor-

ri­dor, but their re­al­ity is tramp­ing up to five hours

to the only places that yield work, or food. Strik­ingly,

res­i­dents ex­press un­cer­tainty about their fu­ture.

There are con­tra­dic­tions and few easy fixes – but

we are con­fronted in Wol­w­eriv­ier, not for the first

time, with a sense that Cape Town is still miss­ing an

over­ar­ch­ing plan for set­tle­ment, for re­shap­ing and

den­si­fy­ing a frac­tured city, and giv­ing peo­ple the op-

timism of be­ing part of a chang­ing, pro­gres­sive

metropole.

This is the only ba­sis on which their own sense of

agency, and hope of self-suf­fi­ciency, can be built.

With­out it, the sus­tain­abil­ity of the whole must be

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