Urban Development

How South Africa tries to manage the issues

Seminar Paper, 2008

17 Pages, Grade: 75Prozent


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Urban Reality during and after Apartheid
2.1. General Situation
2.2. Housing and Infrastructure

3. The Urban Development Strategy
3.1. Prologue, Vision and Goals
3.2. Criticism

4. Housing
4.1. Policy and Implementation
4.2. Criticism and Comparison to Chile

5. Infrastructure
5.1. Policy and Implementation
5.2. Criticism

6. Problems of Applying Theory

7. Conclusion and Outlook


1. Introduction

“We need to massively improve the quality of life of our people, through creating jobs and deracialising the cities. By mobilising the resources of urban communities, government and the private sector we can make our cities centres of opportunity for all South Africans, and competitive within the world economy” (UDS I: 1)

Twelve years ago, President Nelson Mandela wrote this in his foreword to the Urban Development Strategy (UDS), a policy approach of the Government of National Unity, which urged for new reforms and policies addressing the contemporary situation in metropolitan South Africa. Poverty and unemployment are just two of the problems arising from urban development and overcrowding of cities, which authorities need to face. Depriving decades of Apartheid mismanagement left the country shattered and fragmented. With the new Government of National Unity and its leaders Nelson Mandela and De Klerk, new measures had to be taken to challenge the further development of metropolitan areas and to confront the future South Africa is headed into. The urgent problems of housing, transportation and unemployment had to be faced and taken into consideration in developing a new strategy of South African politics.

The Government of National Unity therefore issued the discussion paper The Urban Development Strategy (UDS), which documented its analysis and position on the present situation of metropolitan areas. Furthermore, it outlined the country’s future steps and policies to face the problems as well as its goals and visions for the future. The paper motivated individuals and organisations to debate, criticise and improve the document. It was meant to be flexible and was supposed to absorb comments and opinions for additional expansions and deepening.

Twelve years after the introduction of this strategic plan, the country has invested a lot of money to improve not just the living conditions of its people. The question arises how close it is to achieving the goals, which were set for 2020? In which direction did urban development evolve? Were the goals realistic or just fantasies so far from reality, that there never actually was a chance in fulfilling them?

The paper describes the situation in which the country was after several decades of Apartheid policy. It focuses especially on the problematic issue of housing. The introduction outlines the Urban Development Strategy with its goals and visions as well as its direct criticism. Subsequent to that, the discussion emphasizes the two main issues urban development planning is confronted with namely housing and infrastructure. After that there follows a short chapter on the problematic situation of implementing theory. The final part of the discussion not only concludes and summarises the main aspects, but presents a possible outlook for future urban development in the South African context.

2. Urban Reality during and after Apartheid

2.1. General Situation

In the beginning of the 1990s Urban South Africa is characterised by diversity in residential settlements. City sizes range between small cities and towns with up to 100 000 inhabitants and large metropolitan areas with over two million permanent residents. The inheritance of Apartheid is most visible in the differences between the well-serviced suburban areas and the under-serviced lower-income neighbourhoods in the central districts, but also in the frenetic need of initiatives concerning community interests, as well as private and public sector raise inner-city tension. The need to diversify is one of the economic challenges the urban areas have to deal with.

The potencial of cities include not only its concentrated and diversified economies, but also its productive infrastructure and dynamic institutions along with social networks. All can be used to manage the future urban growth and turn it from a situation with immense struggles to one which offers countless opportunities for all.

2.2. Housing and Infrastructure

Housing in an urban context has always been a difficult task to manage by local authorities in especially rapidly expanding Third World countries.

The Apartheid Regime in South Africa addressed those quests by enforcing the Group Area Act of 1950. Africans had to live in rural homelands (Bantustans), remote from the metropolitan regions (Spiegel 1999: 57). These group areas as well as the planned townships were strategically created in peripheral areas to further enhance the marginalisation of these specific racial groups. Urban arrangements and living were directed by policies that segregated racial groups. This “residential segregation [...] entailed inferior housing and services, and often inconvenient locations in relation to sources of employment” (Smith 2003: 28). Therefore the “access to adequate housing, land, water, electricity, transportation and other urban services was limited for the majority of the population” (SIDA I). Buffer zones where established to diminish contact between the different ethnic groups and enhance the fragmentation and separation of cities.

After realising that the developing illegal settlements were approaching the city, the government introduced planned townships, in which public rental houses should be built in mass construction. It demonstrated a simple way of regulating and controlling urban residents (Spiegel 1999: 57). Another option to satisfy the need of a work force without further migration to the urban areas was the establishment of single-sex hostels, in which mainly male workers resided. These legislations by the Apartheid Regime demonstrated a type of continuity from colonial practice (Spiegel 1999: 57). The destruction of township communities was also a common practice in the reality of Apartheid urban planning if the valuable grounds were to be used differently.

The city structures in the Apartheid era formed a resemblance to its counterparts in the developed world: The centre was characterised by businesses and commercial establishments, which were surrounded by residential suburban areas, mostly for white inhabitants. The ethnic division was further categorized by better housing enclaves for a tiny Indian and Coloured middle class, but the basic dwellings were inhabited by Non-Whites only.

As South Africa entered the new area of democratic freedom, the government realized that the black population had no financial means to live in the former white areas, even though they were allowed to do so. The racial homogeneity continued to characterise the particular districts of a city. The political transition also demonstrated that “[l]ittle change could be expected within the townships, except for continuing improvement of some housing at the hands of the occupants themselves.” (Smith 2003: 30)


Excerpt out of 17 pages


Urban Development
How South Africa tries to manage the issues
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University  (School of Governmental and Social Science)
Seminar: Urban Anthropology
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
422 KB
Urban, Development, Seminar, Urban, Anthropology
Quote paper
Anna Ihle (Author), 2008, Urban Development, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/123939


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Urban Development

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free