Farouk Cassim writes that every political party should focus sharply on smart economic development approaches. Politicking at the local government level is a zero-sum game. File picture: Neil Baynes
Farouk Cassim writes that every political party should focus sharply on smart economic development approaches. Politicking at the local government level is a zero-sum game. File picture: Neil Baynes

Cope aims for social and economic development

By Opinion Time of article published Oct 13, 2021

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by Farouk Cassim

Our Constitution in section 152 lists five objects of local government, one of which is “to promote social and economic development.”

Section 153 requires that a municipality must discharge its “developmental duties” by structuring and managing its administration, budgeting and planning processes to prioritise the basic needs of communities and thus promote their social and economic development.

The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), therefore, developed the Local Economic Development (LED) initiative to encourage “local people to work together to achieve sustainable economic growth and development.”

By maximising the economic potential of municipalities, it is possible to improve the nation’s macro-economic and unemployment situation. Undoubtedly, development initiatives and interventions must occur at the municipal level because that is where full accountability and legitimacy can prevail.

In terms of LED, Cogta provides hands-on support; manages the Local Economic Development Fund; gives management and Technical Support to Nodal Economic Development Planning and facilitates the co-ordinating and monitoring of donor programmes.


The key is large-scale community involvement in economic development.

Every political party should, therefore, focus sharply on smart economic development approaches. Politicking at the local government level is a zero-sum game.

We should collectively make the Integrated Development Plan arena a common space to create policies that strongly influence economic development and growth.

The Neighbourhood Development Partnership Grant, instituted in 2006, offers each municipality funds to start catalytic developments where the need is greatest. It recognises that market forces are the dominant drivers of the city’s economy and, provided that the right policies are in place and that the municipality has completed all the groundwork, members of the community and people in private enterprise can become involved in local area developments.

Introducing market incentives in these catalytic areas will interest entrepreneurs.

Whom we influence and how we influence them will determine how extensive any community-centred economic development in Cape Town will be post 2022.

The Bellville and Philippi catalytic projects, which are being presently shaped, will provide very useful information and guidelines to start unique catalytic projects elsewhere in the city.

With our economy floundering as it is, economic hardships are widespread. High rates and even higher tariffs for electricity have become intolerable for many people.

By increasing economic activity, widening the rates-base and fully collecting all payments due for services, many benefits will flow to all of us.

Our aim as a city must be to ensure that sustained “green” growth yields the most beneficial impact at the lowest cost to the ratepayers. When jobs within a community become abundant through community involvement, the local economy will grow and more investments will pour into developments there.

Townships, clearly, must become the new centres for wide-level sustainable growth in Cape Town.

Our Constitution stipulates that municipalities must target economic development in serially neglected areas to ensure unemployed people there become the first and largest beneficiaries of developments in their areas.

To deal effectively and cost efficiently with crime, vandalism, violence, gangsterism, theft of infrastructure and degraded neighbourhoods, it is imperative that we focus on economic growth in badly afflicted areas and thus draw people into employment.

In short, Cape Town needs new economic hubs close to where most jobless people live. Economic justice must prevail so that we all enjoy the dividends of democracy.

Economically, Cape Town needs both capital-intensive and labour-intensive growth.

Such growth must not worsen the climate emergency. It must be growth that speeds up the transition to renewable energy and is in harmony with environmental sustainability. We must fastidiously protect our natural resources, particularly our clean water sources.

Farouk Cassim, the COPE Councillor profiled on climate change. Farouk Cassim has installed solar panels which doubles as a carport in front of his house. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency(ANA)

So, what can we do? Cope is promoting the following 10-point plan abbreviated as S M A R T C A R T S:

This requires the City to identify suitable parcels of land in economically stagnant Sub-Council areas and to attend to spatial zoning and infrastructure provision to attract entrepreneurs there.

The zoning must allow for the establishment of:

  • Services of all types.
  • Manufacturing in mini factories and workshops.
  • Agricultural processing and urban agriculture.
  • Retail outlets and fresh produce markets.
  • A technology hub with a wide range of technology-based services.

The second part of the Cope plan requires for economic benefits to accrue from:

  • Culture-based programmes.
  • Arts and Music events.
  • Recreational services.
  • Tourism attractions.
  • Sports-related activities.

Through the optimisation of locally added value, more money will flow into the area.

Cape Town, in its developed parts, is doing well. The City, however, must now resort to development economics and LED policies to transform its serially neglected areas and thus comply with the constitutional imperative “to promote (the) social and economic development” of communities in distress.

Councillors must comply with the constitutional injunction so that Cape Town becomes a city that is beautiful and economically successful in all its parts.

* Cassim is Cope mayoral candidate for the City of Cape Town

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

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