Deputy Minister Andries Nel: MISTRA Urban Futures Conference

6 Nov 2018

Address by Mr Andries Nel, MP, Deputy Minister for Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs at the MISTRA Urban Futures Conference: Realising Just Cities: Comparative Co-production held in Cape Town on 6 November 2018

Min Sarveen Choudry, Minister for Urbanisation, Town and Country Planning and Housing in Himachal Pradesh State, India,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Comrades and friends,

Thank you very much for the opportunity to engage on the important and urgent question of the building just cities and encouraging co-production.

Exactly a week ago, almost to the hour, I was chairing the opening session of the 2nd South African Urban Conference.

This conference brought together more than 350 participants from government in all three spheres: national, provincial and local, labour, business, civil society, researchers and academics and traditional leaders to discuss: “Activating an all-of-society approach to implementing the urban agenda.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa was abroad and sent the following message of support to the conference:

“I greet you and I thank you for responding with such speed and enthusiasm to the call I made in Parliament on 22 August this year 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.”

In Parliament President Ramaphosa had said in August this year 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.

But the progressive transformation of our urban spaces is not just about radically addressing social poverty and racial inequities.

We must make our cities generators of wealth and reservoirs of productivity.

We need to eradicate the economic inefficiencies of transporting a workforce from dormitory townships into centres.

The radical transformation of our urban spaces is, therefore, both a social and economic imperative.

Through instruments like the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act and the Integrated Urban Development Framework, we are approaching spatial planning guided by principles of social equity and economic efficiency.”

President Ramaphosa was articulating our national commitment to just cities through the radical social and economic transformation of our urban spaces.

Edward Soja defines spatial justice, and by extension spatial injustice as: “… an intentional and focused emphasis on the spatial or geographical aspects of justice and injustice. As a starting point, this involves the fair and equitable distribution in space of socially valued resources and the opportunities to use them.”

He argues that spatial justice is not a different kind of justice, divorced from social or economic justice, but rather, that it is an important way of looking at justice and that there is a dynamic reciprocal relationship between justice and geography.

What he terms, “the political organization of space” is identified as a particularly powerful source of spatial injustice. Apartheid is a striking example.

He hastens to add, though, that, “the normal workings of an urban system” and the attendant “accumulation of locational decisions” in a capitalist economy are the prime source of injustice in favouring the rich over the poor - aggravated by other forms of spatial and locational discrimination based on racism, patriarchy, heterosexual bias, etc.

South Africa’s National Development Plan: Vision 2030 recognises the interlinked realities of the persistence of colonial and apartheid spatial patterns and very rapid urbanisation - already 66 percent of South Africans live in urban areas, by 2050 this is expected to reach 80 percent.

Realistically, it asserts that there are no quick fixes for transforming the functioning of human settlements and the workings of the space economy.

It recognises that there are powerful interests concerned with maintaining the spatial status quo, while the massive existing investment in fixed assets means that transformation will invariably be incremental.

It expresses confidence, however, that bold measures taken over a sustained period could change the trajectories of spatial development and could mean considerable gains for ordinary citizens and for the national economy.

It commits that, whilst a fundamental reshaping of the colonial and apartheid geography may take decades, by 2030 South Africa should observe meaningful and measurable progress in reviving rural areas and in creating more functionally integrated, balanced and vibrant urban settlements.

However, the NDP states that for this to happen the country must:

  • Clarify and relentlessly pursue a national vision for spatial development;
  • Sharpen the instruments for achieving this vision; and,
  • Build the required capabilities in the state and among citizens.

As part of clarifying a national vision for spatial development the NDP sets out overarching principles to which all spatial development should conform:

  • Spatial justice. The historic policy of confining particular groups to limited space, as in ghettoisation and segregation, and the unfair allocation of public resources between areas, must be reversed to ensure that the needs of the poor are addressed first rather than last;
  • Spatal sustainability. Sustainable patterns of consumption and production should be supported, and ways of living promoted that do not damage the natural environment;
  • Spatial resilience. Vulnerability to environmental degradation, resource scarcity and climatic shocks must be reduced. Ecological systems should be protected and replenished;
  • Spatial quality. The aesthetic and functional features of housing and the built environment need to be improved to create liveable, vibrant and valued places that allow for access and inclusion of people with disabilities;
  • Spatial efficiency. Productive activity and jobs should be supported, and burdens on business minimised. Efficient commuting patterns and circulation of goods and services should be encouraged, with regulatory procedures that do not impose unnecessary costs on development.

These are the principles that inform our Spatial Planning and Land-use Management Act and the National Spatial Development Framework that is currently being developed, led by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.

These are also the principles that inform South Africa’s Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) adopted by Cabinet on 26 April 2016 after a four year process of development and consultation.

The IUDF is one of the sharp instruments the NDP calls for.

It is consistent with SDG 11, New Urban Agenda, and the Paris Climate Agreements and the Sendai Framework.

It marks a New Deal for South African cities and towns, steering urban growth towards a sustainable model of compact, connected and coordinated cities and towns.

It recognises that the country has different types of cities and towns with different roles and requirements, and that the IUDF must be interpreted and pursued in differentiated, locally relevant ways.

The IUDF’s premise is that jobs, housing and transport should be used to promote urban restructuring as outlined in the NDP.

The objective is to transform urban spaces by:

  • Reducing travel costs and distances;
  • Preventing further development of housing in marginal places;
  • Increasing urban densities to reduce sprawl;
  • Improving public transport and the coordination between transport modes; and
  • Shifting jobs and investment towards dense peripheral townships
     

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 IUDF has sought to provide a roadmap to follow in the national quest for spatial transformation towards liveable, inclusive and resilient towns and cities.

It is an all-encompassing policy to guide current and future urban growth.

The IUDF is adopted as a learning policy framework, and the priorities and action plan will be regularly reviewed as we continue to learn from practice.

It is intended to be used by all spheres of government and all sectors: the private sector, civil society and all stakeholders concerned with urban growth and urban futures.

Indeed, an active citizenry is critical for creating socially cohesive and integrated communities, and so municipalities should prioritise measures to enable communities to shape their own spaces.

Cities cannot succeed without the energy and investment of their citizens.

In fact, the very power of cities stems from their unique capacity to bring together a critical mass of social and cultural diversity.

Empowering residents to participate in local government results in active citizenry and social inclusion, cohesion and integration.

Social integration is imperative, given the unjust history and legacy of urbanisation in South Africa, and applies both to intra-community relations within townships and suburbs and inter-community social divides where racial and class divisions remain stark.

Empowered active communities are critical for achieving other aspects of the IUDF such as integrated urban planning and management, sustainable human settlements, urban infrastructure, inclusive economic development and effective urban governance.

The IUDF recognises that despite the emphasis placed on public participation in the Constitution, the White Paper on Local Government and various statutes - public participation, in many cases, has become overly routine in planning processes and does not cultivate constructive, mutually supportive initiatives.

People are, in fact not always placed at the centre of the process and empowered to be architects of their lives, through participating in planning, designing and managing their spaces.

The IUDF recognises that, on the positive side, government is already deeply committed to the co-production of various services at the local level, through structures such as ward committees, community policing forums, parent-teacher associations, community health committees and home-based care networks, and programmes such as the Community Works Programme.

It also recognises community fora, community- and faith-based organisations as structures that could play an important role.

However, it identifies the following five challenges:

  • Insufficient skills and experience within government to engage with civil society;
  • The lack of innovative, co-produced solutions to service delivery dissatisfaction:The current service delivery model, whereby government provides all the services, is both socially and fiscally unviable, and does not encourage the co-production of innovative solutions.  To an extent, this is the unintended consequence of how some policies have been interpreted and applied.
  • The lack of understanding of government structures and operations;
  • Inadequate use of forums to promote participation and social cohesion;
  • Inadequate provision of quality public spaces

Most municipalities display limited internal capacity to engage meaningfully with communities.

Existing structures  are hampered by poor management skills, internal conflicts, limited resources and government of officials’ lack of capacity to work sensitively with community members – and, most importantly, disillusionment among communities because of the limited results achieved.

The revised system should encourage engagements at neighbourhood (not ward) level and use existing relevant community platforms.

Citizens should be involved in planning, designing and managing their neighbourhoods.

In accordance with the NDP, government should engage with people in their own forums rather than in forums created by the state.

Government should assist in establishing community-created forums that bring together stakeholders to share, understand and learn from each other, thereby promoting social learning.

Local communities can also benefit from the skills, enterprise and networks of new arrivals, which would reduce xenophobia and migrant exclusion.

Furthermore, special mechanisms should be developed to enable vulnerable groups to participate, particularly the illiterate, blind, hearing impaired and outsiders in communities.

The IUDF proposes that in the short to medium term the following steps should be taken:

(1) Invest in people’s capabilities

Citizenship education and training - in planning, project management, and budget, institutional and spatial literacy - is needed to strengthen community organisations.

Community activists and workers should be equipped with skills in community organisation, management and planning.

This will enable effective engagement with the broader municipal planning systems.

(2) Build institutional capacity to engage

Multi-stakeholder processes are complex and require particular facilitation skills. 

This means that capacity building within government should not be limited to the units/sections responsible for coordinating public participation/stakeholder engagement, but should be mainstreamed in all departments 

This will require partnerships with relevant NGOs and academic institutions

(3) Explore co-production mechanisms to find solutions to service delivery challenges

Government generally, and municipalities in particular, need to rethink service delivery business models and value chains in order to work in dynamic ways with citizens and their organisations.

In turn, community-based organisations will have to learn what it means to operate social enterprises that contribute to the broader good, and be competent, accountable and part of a larger institutional system. 

Public and private stakeholders must work together, and devise both top-down and bottom-up planning solutions to complement and enrich each other. 

(4) Improve access to quality public infrastructure and facilities

Municipalities should provide quality, safe public spaces where citizens feel valued, that complement public transport and other basic services, and that contribute to creating safe and sustainable human settlements.

Investments should be made in cultural and social infrastructure that promotes the mixing of different groups, while urban designs should provide safe and quality spaces for families and individuals from different cultures, races and genders to interact.

Developing and maintaining public spaces requires enormous resources, and so municipalities should develop partnerships with communities, civil society and the private sector for the planning and upkeep of quality public spaces.

Community- and faith-based organisations are critical for building social cohesion and integration.

Government should also provide goods and services that help migrants to integrate into the city.

Most migrants to cities are vulnerable, and tensions may arise because of the perceived competition for resources.

Helping migrants to integrate will require stronger intergovernmental collaboration because the functions critical for integration are divided among national, provincial and local government

(5) Ensure effective leadership at local level

Leadership, both city and civic, is critical for social transformation.

In order to promote accountability and transparency, leaders should engage communities on municipal issues, such as budget, projects and general information.

Political representatives and administrative leaders should have clear programmes for engaging residents, guided by the relevant legislative and policy prescripts.

Civic leaders should also work with cities to help drive an agenda of values and inclusion of the most vulnerable groups, and also to help overcome barriers associated with class, gender, race, disability, etc.

In the longer term, both the NDP and the IUDF call for the formulation of spatial social compacts.

The NDP argues that the transformation of space is complex given the diversity across South Africa, the entrenched historical legacies, the multiple interests at stake and the many trade-offs required.

It supports developing social compacts as a way of mediating interests and providing the platform for future action.

It suggests that these compacts may be developed in a variety of sectors such as health, education, economy, but can also have a spatial dimension.

It proposes that spatial compacts can happen at various scales, from local neighbourhoods to cities or regions.

They must deal with matters of direct concern where there are competing interests such as, the development of new public transport systems, the upgrading of informal settlements, the management of informal trading, inner-city regeneration, neighbourhood safety, measures towards environmental sustainability and infrastructure maintenance.

Developing compacts should be managed to give voice to all competing interests, and should address the responsibilities of the state, the private sector and the citizenry in spatial development.

The government should find means to incentivise developing these compacts.

Developing social/spatial compacts has preconditions, such as a level of trust between participants, high-level mediation capacity, measures to ensure equitable participation, especially where some parties are well resourced and others not, and adequate sanctions and consequences of non-performance in terms of the contract.

Strong capacity is required to initiate the process and draft the compact.

Recently I addressed a conference on: “State Capture and its Aftermath - Building Responsiveness through State Reform.”

I argued that spatial transformation requires a capable democratic developmental state able to lead government, business, labour and civil society and that it is vital for the state not to be captured narrow sectional interests so that it can maintain what Joel Netshitenzhe describes as “the appropriate balance between embeddedness and autonomy – insulation and connectedness” - that is critical to the ability of the developmental state to inject strategic vision within society.

In my input I made the point that the capture of institutions in municipalities dealing with land and development permission processes hold the promise of far more treasures to loot than those dealing with supply chain management, and with consequences that will be even more devastating in the long-term because they will literally be cast in concrete.

I also referred to the fact that, following his very insightful book on state capture in the Nelson Mandela Metro titled: “How to Steal a City”, Dr Crispian Olver has turned his attention to investigating the manipulation, if not capture, of land and development permission processes in municipalities.

Tellingly, the City of Cape Town has refused him access to even basic documents.

Now, I don’t know whether the organisers of this conference organised it, but the headline of this morning’s Cape Times is: “City slammed for apartheid spatial planning: activists outraged by ‘exclusive’ development.”

The article reads: “Activists advocating for affordable housing in the Central Business District say the city has once again missed an opportunity to address spatial planning after it dismissed an application for inclusive housing at the old Christian Barnard building.”

One of the activists, Jared Rossouw said: “We can only imagine that councillors do not want to disrupt the business-as-usual approach which has become entrenched where developers secure extra rights to build bigger and higher earning massive windfalls for their shareholders. We are simply asking the city to comply with the law and do everything in its powers to ensure that we build an inclusive city for generations to come, rather than a playground for the rich.”

These matters seem to lie at the heart of the political instability besetting the Cape Town Metro, as evinced by the resignation of former Mayor Patricia de Lille and 9 other members of the Democratic Alliance last week.

Earlier in the year Natasha Marriam wrote in Business Day (9 May 2018) that: “… (de Lille) claims that her woes began in 2014 when she presented a document on transforming the spatial landscape of the City of Cape Town. She says her agenda would have done away with apartheid spatial planning in the city and would have begun to develop it as a truly inclusive place to live.”

Marriam argues that, “The facts show there is a real pushback against a truly transformative agenda in the DA, and the woke South African electorate can see right through it.”

These extracts take us back to the points made by Edward Soja’s and point to a convergence of “the political organization of space” and the “accumulation of locational decisions” arising from “the normal workings of an urban system under capitalism.”

This requires of us to unite in an whole-of-government and whole-of-society  approach to implementing the IUDF, redoubling efforts to build local government through the Back to Basics approach, as well as strengthening integrated planning and implementation through our Intergovernmental Relations system.

We trust that MISTRA will walk this journey with us.

I thank you.