The Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Andries Nel, has called on Members of Parliament across party lines to involve their constituencies in a national dialogue on the future of South Africa’s cities and towns.
Nel told MPs that the pace of urbanisation in South Africa and other countries in Africa and Asia is accelerating rapidly.
“The 2011 census tells us that six in 10 people in South Africa live in urban areas. This is likely to increase to over 70% by 2030.
“Some studies suggest that when those learners writing matric exams today start preparing to retire after 2050, eight out of 10 of them will be living in urban areas.”
Trends in most developing countries suggest that urbanisation generates significant opportunities for growth, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. However, urban growth is also associated with growing levels of inequality and environment damage.
“The challenge is to ensure that South Africa stops experiencing the downside pressures of urbanisation and starts reaping the so-called ‘urban dividend’,” said Nel.
The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lechesa Tsenoli, recently released a discussion document titled, ‘Towards an Integrated Urban Development Framework’ in response to a call by President Jacob Zuma during this year’s State of the Nation Address for a coordinated national approach to urban development and spatial transformation. The document was approved by Cabinet in September.
The National Development Plan (NDP) envisages a South Africa that by 2030 should experience meaningful and measurable progress in reviving rural areas and in creating more functionally integrated, balanced and vibrant urban settlements.
The discussion document emphasises the connection between rural and urban development.
Said Nel: “Urban and rural development are often misunderstood as alternatives to each other. They are not. In fact, failure to manage urban development will not slow urbanisation but will undermine both urban and rural development”.
The document recognises that municipalities alone cannot deal with the challenges of urbanisation and the transformation of apartheid spatial patterns that still persist in towns and cities. It proposes a national approach that brings together the three spheres of government and all sectors of society.
Nel said a national dialogue to map the geography of our future was needed. He described the discussion document as a compass, “but not yet a map”.
The chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on CoGTA, Dumisile Nhlengethwa, recently called on Minister Tsenoli to make the discussion document available to all MPs.
The discussion document was launched at a conference hosted by the Departments of CoGTA and Human Settlements on Friday, 25 October.
The document was drafted with the participation of the National Planning Commission, the Departments of Human Settlements, National Treasury, Transport, Rural Development and Land Reform, Energy, Environment and Water Affairs and Public Works as well as the South African Local Government Association and the SA Cities Network.
The department will be briefing the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs on the integrated urban development framework discussion document on Tuesday, 5 November.
Source: SA Government News Agency