Con­ver­sa­tions with lead­ers

Co­op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs Deputy Min­is­ter An­dries Nel de­tails ef­forts to dis­man­tle the legacy of apartheid spa­tial plan­ning and en­sure spa­tial jus­tice

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The legacy of apartheid spa­tial plan­ning – which con­demned the ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion to live far away from their places of work and other ameni­ties – forces many work­ing-class peo­ple to spend too much time and money get­ting to work and back home.

Be­tween laws like the Group Ar­eas Act, the pass laws and the mi­grant labour sys­tem, black

South Africans were sub­jected to de­hu­man­is­ing cir­cum­stances dur­ing colo­nial and apartheid rule. They were bull­dozed out of their homes and com­mu­ni­ties, dumped on in­hab­it­able land and their move­ments into places of work were re­stricted by un­just laws.

The pain of our cruel past is hard to for­get, es­pe­cially for those peo­ple who still live far away from eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties be­cause of the en­dur­ing legacy of apartheid's un­just spa­tial pat­terns.

To get to work on time, the work­ing class and the poor spend a lot of their day com­mut­ing. Some use two or more modes of pub­lic trans­port to get to work and of­ten leave when their loved ones are still asleep. Af­ter a day's work, they face the long com­mute home and the re­sult is that they hardly get to see their fam­i­lies.

Ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics South Africa, more than two-thirds of house­holds in the low­est in­come quin­tile spend more than 20 per­cent of their monthly house­hold in­come per capita on pub­lic trans­port.

This is a fea­ture of poor house­holds and when the ever-in­creas­ing cost of liv­ing is brought into the fray, a huge hole is left in their bud­gets, which leads to house­holds strug­gling to make ends meet. This acts as an ob­sta­cle to cre­at­ing so­cial co­he­sion and build­ing the na­tion.

In­te­grated Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment Frame­work

But this is­sue can be changed and is be­ing ad­dressed. Co­op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs (CoGTA) Deputy Min­is­ter An­dries Nel says the In­te­grated Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment Frame­work (IUDF) is

one of the mech­a­nisms that the de­part­ment is util­is­ing to bring about spa­tial jus­tice.

“The legacy of apartheid spa­tial plan­ning, and things like the Group Ar­eas Act, the pass laws and the mi­grant labour sys­tem, have had a pro­found im­pact on our cities and towns, which re­main highly seg­re­gated and highly frag­mented,” said the Deputy Min­is­ter in an in­ter­view with PSM.

He said that ur­ban ar­eas are spa­tially un­just be­cause, very of­ten, it is the poor­est in so­ci­ety who have to travel the long­est dis­tances.

“Some of the great achieve­ments of our democ­racy at the level of ser­vice de­liv­ery have, iron­i­cally, re­in­forced apartheid spa­tial plan­ning. We have built over 3.5 mil­lion houses over 25 years.There are very, very few so­ci­eties in the world that can claim to have done so much in so lit­tle time. But when you look at where those houses have been built, they are very of­ten on the pe­riph­eries of our cities and towns.”

This has re­in­forced seg­re­ga­tion and frag­men­ta­tion, he said, ex­plain­ing that it has also stretched the ca­pac­ity of our wa­ter, san­i­ta­tion and trans­port in­fra­struc­ture.

It is for th­ese rea­sons that the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan (NDP) recog­nises the need to trans­form South Africa's na­tional space econ­omy.

“And the in­te­gral part of trans­form­ing our na­tional space econ­omy is also strength­en­ing the link­ages be­tween ur­ban ar­eas and ru­ral ar­eas. When we talk about urbanisation and ur­ban de­vel­op­ment, what we are re­ally say­ing is that our ur­ban ar­eas and our ru­ral ar­eas are in­ex­tri­ca­bly con­nected. You need strong ur­ban ar­eas to pro­mote ru­ral de­vel­op­ment, but you also need strong and vi­able ru­ral ar­eas to sup­port strong and vi­able ur­ban ar­eas,” he pointed out.

The ob­jec­tive of the IUDF – which was adopted by gov­ern­ment in 2016 – is to trans­form ur­ban spa­ces by re­duc­ing travel costs and dis­tances, prevent­ing

fur­ther de­vel­op­ment of hous­ing in mar­ginal places, in­creas­ing ur­ban den­si­ties to re­duce sprawl, im­prov­ing pub­lic trans­port and the co­or­di­na­tion be­tween trans­port modes, and shift­ing jobs and in­vest­ment to­wards dense pe­riph­eral town­ships.

Fun­da­men­tal change needed

Dur­ing his re­cent re­ply to oral ques­tions in the Na­tional Assem­bly, Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa said it was un­ac­cept­able that the work­ing class and poor, who are over­whelm­ingly black, are lo­cated far from work op­por­tu­ni­ties and ameni­ties.

He said the ur­ban spa­tial pat­terns that gov­ern­ment in­her­ited from apartheid, and which per­sist to this day, con­trib­ute to the re­pro­duc­tion of poverty and in­equal­ity – and must be fun­da­men­tally changed.

The Pres­i­dent said gov­ern­ment should make cities gen­er­a­tors of wealth and reser­voirs of pro­duc­tiv­ity.

He added there is a need to erad­i­cate the eco­nomic in­ef­fi­cien­cies of trans­port­ing a work­force from dor­mi­tory town­ships into cen­tres.

The rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion of our ur­ban spa­ces is, there­fore, both a so­cial and eco­nomic im­per­a­tive.

He also stressed that it was through in­stru­ments like the Spa­tial Plan­ning and Land Use Man­age­ment Act of 2013 and the IUDF that South Africa is now ap­proach­ing spa­tial plan­ning guided by prin­ci­ples of so­cial eq­uity and eco­nomic ef­fi­ciency.

Fos­ter­ing so­cial co­he­sion

Deputy Min­is­ter Nel echoed the sen­ti­ments of the Pres­i­dent, say­ing ad­dress­ing apartheid spa­tial plan­ning is a pri­or­ity and can work if the coun­try ap­proaches urbanisation – which has picked up in South Africa and other coun­tries – at an ac­cel­er­ated pace.

He said by 2012, when the NDP was adopted, 63 per­cent of South Africans were al­ready liv­ing in ur­ban ar­eas. By 2050, urbanisation will be up to 71 per­cent.

“We are look­ing at eight out of ev­ery 10 South Africans liv­ing in ur­ban ar­eas. On the one hand, there are tremen­dous so­cial and eco­nomic ben­e­fits to be de­rived from urbanisation.

“Cities give rise to a tremen­dous amount of en­ergy and cre­ativ­ity and many peo­ple liv­ing to­gether closely, and es­pe­cially young peo­ple, fosters so­cial co­he­sion be­cause peo­ple from dif­fer­ent back­grounds come to­gether and they are forced to live to­gether. Cities can also, if urbanisation is man­aged cor­rectly, be a lot more re­source-ef­fi­cient and en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able,” added the Deputy Min­is­ter.

On the other hand, if a city does not plan for urbanisation and fails to man­age it prop­erly,“it can give rise to a con­cen­tra­tion of poverty. It can give rise to huge sprawl­ing in­for­mal set­tle­ments char­ac­terised by un­san­i­tary liv­ing con­di­tions, by high rates of crime, huge so­cial prob­lems like drug ad­dic­tion and gen­der-based vi­o­lence.

“If you don't man­age urbanisation prop­erly, it can have dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences for the en­vi­ron­ment. It can cre­ate huge vul­ner­a­bil­ity to nat­u­ral and hu­man dis­as­ters. So re­ally, that then is one of our big­gest na­tional chal­lenges.”

Role of lo­cal gov­ern­ment

Deputy Min­is­ter Nel be­lieves that spa­tial plan­ning and ef­fi­cient urbanisation need to be ad­dressed at the mu­nic­i­pal level, which means that lo­cal gov­ern­ment needs to be strong and vi­able.

“In CoGTA, our as­sess­ment is that out of 250 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, onethird are do­ing well.”

How­ever, he said that while th­ese bet­ter per­form­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties get many of their ba­sics right, they face an ar­ray of chal­lenges which, if not ar­rested, could al­low them to slide into dys­func­tion­al­ity.

“One-third of our mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties – about 87 – are ei­ther dys­func­tional or in dis­tress,” the Deputy

Min­is­ter pointed out. He added that the Back to Ba­sics ini­tia­tive, aimed at im­prov­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, is based on five pil­lars – it puts peo­ple first, en­sures the de­liv­ery of ba­sic ser­vices, dic­tates that mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties prac­tise good gov­er­nance, pro­motes sound fi­nan­cial man­age­ment, and builds strong and re­silient in­sti­tu­tions of de­vel­op­men­tal lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

It is vi­tal that the right peo­ple with the right qual­i­fi­ca­tions are ap­pointed to mu­nic­i­pal po­si­tions, he em­pha­sised.

Forg­ing a so­cial spa­tial com­pact

The Deputy Min­is­ter said while in­roads are be­ing made in deal­ing with the legacy of apartheid spa­tial plan­ning, gov­ern­ment needs the in­volve­ment of so­cial part­ners to en­sure that spa­tial jus­tice is achieved.

All tiers of gov­ern­ment, and so­ci­ety as a whole, need to work to­gether if South Africa is to re­alise the NPD's vi­sion of trans­form­ing the na­tional space econ­omy, he added.

“I think it is a point that the Pres­i­dent has em­pha­sised over and over again – that we need to build a so­cial com­pact and also to build a so­cial spa­tial com­pact. It is some­thing that he ar­tic­u­lated very sharply in a re­ply to a ques­tion on ur­ban land in Au­gust in Par­lia­ment.”

The Deputy Min­is­ter said as a re­sult of that call, the de­part­ment hosted the South African Ur­ban Con­fer­ence, which al­lowed gov­ern­ment, busi­ness, labour and civil so­ci­ety to dis­cuss the best way to im­ple­ment the coun­try's ur­ban agenda.

“Out of that, we agreed that we would work to­wards es­tab­lish­ing a na­tional ur­ban fo­rum that brings to­gether those so­cial part­ners… in an on­go­ing di­a­logue about im­ple­ment­ing the ur­ban agenda, lead­ing next year to an ur­ban sum­mit,” he added.

Writer: Amuke­lani Chauke

Co­op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tionalAf­fairs Deputy Min­is­ter An­dries Nel.

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