Deputy Minister Nel’s address at Planning Africa 2018

Updated : December 12, 2018

Deputy Minister Nel’s address at the Planning Africa 2018 conference made on 15 October 2018

Programme Director

SAPI President, Ms Nthato Minyuku,

MEC Western Cape Government, Mr Anton Bredell,

MMC for Transport and Urban Planning of the City of Cape Town, Mr Brett Heron,

International guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you very much for the opportunity to address this very important Planning Africa Conference on: “The Making of Modern African Cities.”

I convey the warm regards and best wishes of Minister Zweli Mkhize, who is accompanying President Cyril Ramaphosa to the South Africa – DRC Bi-national Commission.

On 13 June 1994 the then recently elected first president of a democratic South Africa, President Nelson Mandela, addressed a meeting of the Organisation for African Unity in Tunis, which marked South Africa’s entry into the OAU. On that historic occasion President Mandela said:

“In the distant days of antiquity, a Roman sentenced this African city to death: “Carthage must be destroyed (Carthago delenda est).”

And Carthage was destroyed. Today we wander among its ruins, only our imagination and historical records enable us to experience its magnificence…And yet we can say this, that all human civilisation rests on foundations such as the ruins of the African city of Carthage. These architectural remains… all speak of Africa`s contribution to the formation of the condition of civilisation.”

Indeed, in his epic poem Unodumehlezi kaMenzi, the first Poet Laureate of democratic South Africa, Mazisi Kunene, attributes the following words of urban planning to Emperor Shaka:

“Ngifuna ukuba umuzi wonke wami u-thi-ntithe izintuli

Uthuthe uthuthele kude nakule ndawo

Ngifuna ngakhe isidakadaka saKwaDukuza ngoMvoti

Nalo muzi ngize ngiwethe ngoDukuza

Ngoba abantu bayakudukuza kuwo ubukhulu bawo

Ngiwubona wona uyakube uyaluza imikhosi

Anginawo amaningi kusasa lokhu ngiyakuwuqala.”

Kunene translates this passage as follows in Emperor Shaka the Great:

“I want my capital moved from this fearsome place –

Let it be far away from all the shadows of yesterday.

I want my new capital to be built near the Mvoti river.

This great new home I shall call Dukuza.

In it people shall walk like ants in a giant anthill.

So big it must be that many shall lose their way in it.

There festivals and feasts shall affirm the greatness of Zululand.

I do not have much more to say.”

The voice of Emperor Shaka continues to challenge us as we imagine the making of the modern African city.

How do we move our urban spaces away from the fearsome places of the past and out of the shadows of yesterday? How do they become places where the festival of humanity can affirm the greatness of the full potential of every person?

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals recognizes the importance of urban areas in SDG 11: “Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

Similarly, African Union Agenda 2063 recognises that: “Cities and other settlements are hubs of cultural and economic activities.”

And, significantly for this Conference, it sets as a key objective to:

“Provide opportunities for all Africans to have decent and affordable housing in clean, secure and well planned environments.”

These are important affirmations because continuing population growth and urbanization will add two-and-a-half billion people to the world’s urban population by 2050. Ninety percent of this increase will be in Asia and Africa.

In fact, according to the UN, Africa is expected to be the fastest urbanizing region between 2020 to 2050.

By 2050 most of the world’s urban population will be concentrated in Asia (with fifty-two percent) and Africa (with twenty-one percent).

Most of the fastest growing cities with a population of less than 1 million are also located in Asia and Africa.

Cities are a driving force for economic development.

As places of concentrated economic activity, cultural diversity, learning, innovation and creativity, cities can enable a country to build a dynamic competitive advantage and allow its people to advance socially and economically.

President Ramaphosa underscored this reality recently in Parliament when he said that:

“We must make our cities generators of wealth and reservoirs of productivity. The radical transformation of our urban spaces is, therefore, both a social and economic imperative.”

Indeed, in South Africa where 66 percent of the population already live in urban areas, the economies of metropolitan municipalities (metros) are growing twice as fast as those of secondary cities and the rest of the country.

Metros have much higher average incomes (by about 40%) than the country as a whole.

Between 1996 and 2012, employment grew twice as fast in the metros than anywhere else.

Between 1996 and 2012, metros accounted for three-quarters (74.9%) of all net job creation in the country.

At the same time, South Africa’s urban areas continue to be hampered by a legacy of racial segregation, poverty and exclusion from social and economic opportunities

Four primary factors are perpetuating existing social, economic and spatial patterns in South Africa’s urban areas:

  1. Existing property markets and land use

The property and land-use status quo undermines access to urban opportunity and reinforces the highly inefficient urban sprawl that is characteristic of South Africa’s urban areas.  

There has been no substantial land reform and restitution, especially in urban areas, in part because of the importance of the formal property market, which increased significantly between 1994 and 2014.

Recently in Parliament, President Ramaphosa emphasised that:

“To accelerate spatial transformation, Cabinet resolved at its recent lekgotla on the rapid release of well-located, but under-utilised land to develop affordable, mixed-income human settlement.

Much of this land is owned publicly by national departments, provincial governments, municipalities and state-owned companies. Some of this land is privately held for purely speculative purposes.

We need to use every inch of underutilised land for our people to live on and to farm.

We have a responsibility – imposed on us by the Constitution – to ensure that all South Africans have security of tenure.

While extending title deeds to a greater number of households is a priority, we should also secure less expensive and less complicated forms of tenure for households in informal settlements, in rental arrangements and in areas of communal land tenure.

We need to develop a continuum of use and ownership tenure rights.

We are committed to using expropriation, where appropriate, to achieve social and economic spatial transformation in towns and cities.”

  1. Unsustainable infrastructure networks and consumptions patterns

South African urban areas are profoundly resource intensive, highly polluted and wasteful.

The spatial form of South African cities, dependency on cars and suburban-lifestyle aspiration produce an extremely resource-intensive and inefficient form of settlement.

  1. Continued segregated urban settlements

Urban areas in South Africa remain marked by profound social divisions, which stem from apartheid planning and, since 1994, have been reinforced by the uneven growth in land values and limited access by the poor to resources.

President Ramaphosa said recently in Parliament that:

“The urban spatial patterns that we inherited from apartheid, and which persist to this day, contribute to the reproduction of poverty and inequality – and must be fundamentally changed. It is unacceptable that the working class and poor, who are overwhelmingly black, are located far from work opportunities and amenities. Among other things, this places enormous pressure on family life.

Working parents leave home early and return well after young children are, or should be, asleep. These long commuting times impact disproportionately on the household income of the poor.

According to StatsSA, more than two-thirds of households in the lowest income quintile spend more than 20% of their monthly household income per capita on public transport.”

  1. Unequal income levels and access to services

High levels of inequality reinforce economic marginalisation and produce spatial poverty traps.

In response to these challenges Cabinet adopted the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) in April 2016.

The IUDF marks a New Deal for South African cities and towns.

It sets a policy framework to guide the development of inclusive, resilient and liveable urban settlements, while addressing the unique conditions and challenges facing South Africa’s cities and towns.

The IUDF provides key principles and policy levers for creating urban spaces.  

The nine policy levers and priorities are premised on an understanding that integrated urban planning forms the basis for achieving integrated urban development, which follows a specific sequence of urban policy actions:  

Integrated transport informs targeted investments into integrated sustainable human settlements and should be underpinned by integrated infrastructure network systems and efficient land governance.

Together, these trigger economic diversification and inclusion, and the creation of empowered communities, which, in turn, will demand deep governance and financial reform.  

The levers in combination address the structural drivers that promote the status quo and bring the different sectors together to work towards creating compact, connected and coordinated cities and towns.

Furthermore, the identified priorities should strengthen rural-urban linkages, promote urban resilience, create safe urban spaces and ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable groups are addressed.

The key outcome of the IUDF is spatial transformation.

The IUDF’s spatial transformation outcome is anchored around three elements – jobs, housing and transport – that should be used to achieve the urban restructuring as outlined in the NDP.

The IUDF policy levers should, therefore, help restructure urban space by:

  1. Reducing travel costs and distances;
  2. Preventing further development of housing in marginal places;
  3. Increasing urban densities to reduce sprawl;
  4. Improving public transport and the coordination between transport modes;
  5. Shifting jobs and investment towards dense peripheral townships;
  6. Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; and
  7. Developing and implementing holistic disaster risk management at all levels

The IUDF interventions are designed to unlock the development synergy that comes from coordinated investments in people, the economy and places.

The IUDF advocates an integrated approach that strengthens urban-rural linkages.

It argues that there is rarely a sharp division between rural and urban areas, but rather a rural-urban spatial continuum.

The focus must be on strengthening linkages between urban and rural development.

But all of this demands effective urban planning.

And, at the core of effective urban planning is strategic spatial planning, which promotes spatial justice, spatial quality, spatial efficiency, spatial sustainability and spatial resilience – the values advocated in the NDP.

Furthermore, a necessary, albeit not sufficient condition for strategic spatial planning, is a planning profession in government, business, academia and civil society that understands and is committed to the practice of these values.

It also depends on basic – yet critical – functions, such as the provision of reliable and quality services (e g  waste management), a speedy response to service delivery failures, and quick turnaround times for finalising land- use development applications.

This underscores the inextricable link between the IUDF and government’s Back to Basics programme of assisting and intervening in dysfunctional municipalities to ensuring they:

Put people first, deliver quality basic services, practice good governance and sound financial management, and build strong, resilient capabilities for developmental local government,

Effective urban planning stimulates a more rational organisation and use of urban spaces, and should result in:

  1. More compact, socially inclusive and better-integrated cities that are resilient to climate change and urban risk;
  2. Infrastructure investments that are sequenced, coordinated and integrated with land development;
  3. Stable and predictable conditions for investments that are sequenced for optimal impact;
  4. Clarity for all government spheres and sectors about the investments required to maximise opportunities for transforming people’s lives for the better;
  5. Efficient approval processes to facilitate economic development;
  6. Spatial integration to reverse undesirable settlement patterns emanating from past practices; and
  7. Inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable human settlements.

South Africa has a range of legislation, policies and strategies to guide integrated planning.

These include the NDP, the White Paper on Local Government (1998), the Municipal Systems Act, the National Environmental Management Act and, more recently, the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act.

Notwithstanding the progressive legislative and policy environment, the following five challenges require urgent attention:

 

  1. Weak planning and coordination within government and with the private sector – Investments by other parts of government tend to ignore the municipality’s SDF and IDP, resulting in poor integration among sectors. In addition, private sector investments frequently fail to align with public sector plans.
  2. Insufficient use of intergovernmental relations (IGR) structures – IGR structures and intergovernmental planning are detached from each other, missing the opportunity to integrate and align development initiatives.
  3. Weak long-term planning – The five-year horizon of IDPs is too limited to address elements such as infrastructure expansion, disaster risk measures and integrated transport and human settlements necessary to overcome spatial inequalities which can take decades.
  4. Weak capabilities for spatial decision-making and administration – One of the consequences of weak spatial governance is that spatial planning has tended to follow patterns set by private-sector investment, instead of the long-term public interest shaping the overall pattern of spatial development. The capability of the state to engage with the private sector must be improved, as the private sector has an important role to play.
  5. Poor urban management – Some parts of cities and towns, particularly the poorer parts, are characterised by unreliable service provision because of frequent and lengthy disruptions in the supply of services.

Changing the trajectories of spatial development will require bold measures over a sustained period.

The IUDF proposes that in the short-to-medium term we need to do seven things:

  1. Align spatial, sectoral and strategic plans – To guide development and manage growth, municipalities should develop long-term plans, which are aligned to the NDP and to provincial strategies. These plans must form the basis of their SDFs and guide sectoral and private plans and investments. Although the different sectors will determine their targets, norms and standards, the locality and sequencing of their programmes and projects must be informed by local spatial plans.

 

  1. Improve the quality of municipal spatial plans – Quality and implementable spatial plans should effectively guide other government and non-government partners in developing priority areas. While cities are responsible for planning in their areas, national and provincial governments must take into account and align to local government plans, especially when planning for social (e g  schools, health facilities, libraries, etc ) and economic infrastructure.
  2. Integrate spatial planning and urban resilience – Spatial planning is instrumental in addressing the challenges posed by natural hazards on the built environment.
  3. Support and strengthen capacity to implement SPLUMA – At all levels, government urgently needs to build capacity to develop, align and integrate spatial and sectoral plans in line with the vision outlined in SPLUMA. Municipal planning departments should be well capacitated and funded, able to plan and engage with other stakeholders and to monitor progress on the implementation of plans.
  4. Improve urban management – Getting the basics right. Models should be developed urgently, to ensure that the redevelopment of such areas does not push out the urban poor and middle-class and result in gentrification. This would require creating a strong partnership with the private sector, to ensure that both social and economic goals are met.
  5. Maximise existing IGR structures as a mechanism for coordinating planning – A proactive approach is required to identify and resolve intergovernmental and planning problems, and should include the use of mechanisms, such as spatial compacts, to negotiate spatial conflicts among spheres, sectors or other actors.
  6. Ensure greater involvement by Premiers and MECs – Premiers and MECs should direct and focus the necessary resources to create coherent centres of planning at provincial level that will support the convergence of investment and development in municipalities.

Many of these matters are being addressed as the implementation of the IUDF gains momentum.

President Ramaphosa has urged us to be bold in our thinking, and our actions – to move from an integrated urban development framework to an integrated urban revolution.

The IUDF is being implemented through three key initiatives, namely the Cities Support Programme spearheaded by National Treasury, the Intermediate City Municipalities by the Department of Cooperative Governance and the Small Town Regeneration Programme  by SALGA.

These efforts are reinforced by the Inter-Ministerial Task Team on Service Delivery chaired by Minister Mkhize which is working hard to align the programmes and budgets of human settlements, water and sanitation, energy, transport, education and others spatially and sequentially.

They are further buttressed by efforts to revitalize our intergovernmental relations structures, to align them with planning processes, and to look critically, both at the number and the powers of provinces as well as the number and configuration of national government departments.

The development of national planning legislation and the transfer of SPLUMA from Rural Development and Land Reform to CoGTA and DPME will also assist.

The introduction of instruments such as the Integrated Urban Development Grant seek to reinforce this work.

But success in making new African cities will require the whole of government and the whole of society.

The implementation of the IUDF must be linked to a number of initiatives announced recently by President Ramaphosa: The promotion of a agrarian revolution; an economic stimulus package; the recent Jobs Summit and the forthcoming Investment Conference, which will be held in Johannesburg from 25 to 27 October.

All of these initiatives seek to strengthen a whole of government, whole of society approach by building the social compact between government, labour, business, and civil society called for in the NDP.

Earlier this year in Parliament President Ramaphosa made the point that:

“To build the cities and towns that we want, it is critical that government, the private sector and the NGOs work together to create a sustainable growth model of compact, connected and coordinated urban areas by integrating and aligning investments.

This should form part of the broader social compact envisaged in the National Development Plan, and which, in many different ways and on many different fronts, we are working to build.

Through such a compact, through the transformation of our urban spaces, by strengthening property rights for all, we can ensure that the poor and working class live in decent communities located near to economic opportunities – and that parents can return home from work long before their children need to go to sleep.

Taking forward this call, a South African Urban Conference will be held on 30-31 October 2018 at the Turbine Hall in Johannesburg under the theme: “Activating an All-of-Society Approach to Implementing the Urban Agenda.”

We call on the planning profession to support this initiative.

We look forward to walking the long road of making modern African with you, and in the worlds of Emperor Shaka, of moving our urban spaces aways from the fearsome places of the past and out of the shadows of yesterday and making them places where the festival of humanity can affirm the greatness of the full potential of every person?

Thank you.

These partners have been supporting the IUDF: