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SA must develop cities for investment and to address apartheid spatial planning

Experts say South Africa’s future is urban and economic structural transformation, budgets, poverty and inequality need to be prioritised to attract further development. Picture: Ross Jansen/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Experts say South Africa’s future is urban and economic structural transformation, budgets, poverty and inequality need to be prioritised to attract further development. Picture: Ross Jansen/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Nov 26, 2020

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Cape Town - Experts say South Africa’s future is urban and economic structural transformation, budgets, poverty and inequality need to be prioritised to attract further development.

Speaking at a conference to mark 25 years of local government organised by the SA Local Government Association and the think tank on Government and Public Policy, executive director of the Centre for Development and Enterprise Ann Bernstein said: “It is time we prioritise cities.

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"It is only if our cities grow that we are going to get transformation and inclusion of the poor.”

“We have to embrace urbanisation and the reality of growing our cities.

"It will help transform the apartheid spatial planning.

"Cities need a role in national policy-making and framework.

"They need a greater budget.

"I’m in favour of a one city mindset which is focused on opportunities,” said Bernstein.

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Open streets advisory board member and transport consultant Philip van Ryneveld said: “We need to foster leadership at all levels with the administrations within the administrations and build trust and commitment.

"We also need people at administrative level who can work responsibly with communities in line with the new strategies.”

On the issue of key elements in the South African Constitution under the allocation of powers and functions, an international expert on economy and urban development, Andrew Boraine said: “Local government tends to be socially distant because of hierarchical command and control attitudes as well as its bureaucratic institutional culture and language.”

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“Participatory processes are reduced to tick box exercises and civil society organizations and local business are often in fact viewed as the enemy while the local state tends to be orientated inwards and upwards not downwards and outwards,” said Boraine.

Other speakers at the conference included former Statistician-General Pali Lehohla who said the current state of South African cities shows how un-integrated the spatial planning is in the country.

A former Provincial and Constitutional Affairs Minister Vali Moosa blamed the problems faced by cities on an ageing leadership and said: “I think throughout the leadership in the country, particularly at national level, we’ve got a huge problem of age, younger people are currently not participating in shaping the country.”

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