Premier David Makhura addresses delegates at the African Cities Sustainability Forum at the CSIR. Picture: Rapula Moatshe

Rapula Moatshe

Big cities across Africa should come alive to stark realities of rapid urbanisation and migration by embracing migrants from all corners of the world, said Premier David Makhura.

He spoke on Wednesday at a three-day African Cities Sustainability Forum, which was attended by 35 mayors from across the continent at CSIR.

During his address, he apologised to mayors for the past xenophobic attacks perpetrated against some of their countrymen.

He told them that those attacks didn't represent the true character of South Africans.

"There is no city in the world that can thrive without absorbing migrants and making them part of the full life of the city," Makhura said.

He also highlighted the type of impact the phenomenon of migration has on cities' financial resources.

For example, he said thousands of people migrated to Gauteng affected by the pace at which his administration was addressing the housing backlog.

"We have no time to complain about the challenge of migration. We have to tackle this challenge head-on. 

"One of the impacts of migration is that the provision for housing becomes a huge challenge, also education provision and health services become a huge issue,"h e said.

He said in the past 24 years his administration built two million houses, but it was still grappling with the  backlog.

"It doesn't matter how many houses you are going to build in Tshwane. The housing backlog is huge. 

The more you build new houses the more you have new arrivals in the cities," Makhura said.

He further challenged mayors to think about new ways of building houses in the interest of building sustainable cities.

He told them that Gauteng has adopted a new approach to build houses called mega human settlements.

"We are now identifying land parcels that are well located much nearer to the economic opportunities," he said.

He said human settlements must be environmentally sustainable. "They must also be a space of food production and local economic activities," he said.