Possible directions that South Africa needs to follow regarding urban development, in view of the experiences in Chile and the Urban Development Strategy of the South African Government

Term Paper, 2001

18 Pages, Grade: 1 (A)


Table of contents

1 Introduction

2 The Urban Development Strategy of the South African Government

3 The Housing Issue

4. Urbanisation in Chile
4.1. Applied Strategies in Chile (1958—1993)
4.2. Urbanisation in Chile and South Africa

5 National and International Aspects

6 Conclusion

List of Resources

1 Introduction

Apartheid has been overthrown, a democratic government has been elected and South Africa is opening itself to the world. But for the administration, the problems have grown more urgent, and the country now faces more than the already tragic heritage of apartheid. Due to decades of apartheid mismanagement urban areas are extremely inequitable and inefficient. They are the productive centres of the economy, but the majority of the urban residents live in very bad conditions and far away from their places of work. The quality of life of the South African people has to be improved massively, through creating jobs and deracialising the cities.

Estimates of the present urban population in South Africa vary between 19.6 million and 26 million. By 2020, 75 per cent of the population will live and work in the cities and towns.[1] The rate of urban population growth will be higher than for the population growth as a whole. Whereas in 1985 there were 20.7 million of the total South African population, resident in and on the edges of urban areas, by 2020 that will have increased to 43.7 million.[2]

In the future, the urban centres, especially the metropolitan areas will function to an even greater degree than today as the social, economic and demographic heart of the country.

“It is apparent that African urbanisation levels certainly increase markedly over the next decade, and it is important that all decision makers involved in forward planning take account of this phenomenon.“[3]

In this assignment I will give an insight to the Urban Development Strategy of the Government of National Unity (GNU) (Chapter 2). Special attention will be given to the housing issue in Chapter 3. In Chapter 4 I will discuss the experiences in Chile, how different political systems influenced the urbanisation process in various ways. Chapter 5 deals with some national and international aspects, which have to be considered when strategies for development are designed and Chapter 6 includes some final comments on the urban development issue.

2 The Urban Development Strategy of the South African Government

“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. The success of this will depend on the initiative taken by residents to build their local authorities and promote local economic development.“[4]

The government has to simultaneously promote transformation of society and transformation of its own instruments of government, under heavy pressure from the global economy for cost-effectiveness, and from the social backlog within the country demanding jobs, salaries, infrastructure and social services. The first strategic decision of the new government is that such challenges are to be met by all the key role-players in the country, and not by the government alone. The idea of national unity, of partnership, of a clear understanding of the different interests became a philosophy of governance.

There are seven strategic goals in the Urban Development Strategy:[5]

- To create more efficient and productive cities and towns with less poverty and sustained by dynamic economies, through the growth of local economies.
- To rapidly reduce existing infrastructure and service disparities.
- To provide better, affordable housing and shelter and greater security of tenure for urban residents within fiscal and other constraints.
- To tackle spatial inefficiencies, especially the mismatch between where people live and work.
- To improve the quality of the urban environment by better integrating environmental concerns within development planning and urban management practices.
- To transform local authorities into effective and accountable local government institutions.
- To establish safe and secure living and working spaces, marked by social stability.

When implementing the Urban Strategy the focus is set on several mutually-reinforcing priority action areas:

1. Integrating the cities and Managing Urban Growth

The most important step on the way to integrated cities and towns is to focus on the creation of jobs, housing and urban institutions, rebuilding of the townships, reduction of distances between workplaces and residential areas and improving the urban transport infrastructure and mobility (especially the passenger transport). Better land use through reforming the urban land and planning system (making well located and vacant or underutilised land available for development) is also very important. The urban land development is still influenced by a large number of racially based laws which have to be abolished. More attention has to be paid to environmental issues. They must be integrated into local authority functions. The urban strategy emphasises the importance of a healthy, safe and dignified life. “It links urban development and management to holistic and integrated planning, public participation, and the improvement of environmental expertise. In this vein, the government will emphasise environmentally-sensitive land use planning and impact assessment, the sustainable use of resources and protection of ecologically sensitive areas, the protection of cultural heritage as well as pollution control.“[6]

The reform of the development planning system includes the connection of national and provincial levels of government with other parts of government which are charged with urban management (e.g. the local and metropolitan government). This will provide a basis for better communication and coordinated land use, transportation, environmental, economic, institutional, infrastructural and fiscal planning in urban areas.

2. Investing in urban development

The main investment will be concerned with the upgrading of existing and the construction of new housing; the restoration and extension of infrastructure services; the reduction of environmental health hazards; the confirmation of investments and the provision of job opportunities and social community facilities. Private sector investments are seen as a necessary support for the transformation of cities and towns. Public investment at all levels will be expected to relate to the economic or functional base and potential of an area. Concerning the infrastructure and services the principle that people should pay for the services to which they have access is a central aspect of the strategy (Masakhane Campaign). The level of the provided services will relate to what he consumers can afford and basic service delivery will be supported by the government. The upgrading of existing infrastructure and facilities should be explored first before embarking on new extensions. For the rapid improvement of the situation in poor communities, e.g. schools must be used to ensure that children receive at least one good meal a day and the initiative and good will of women’s organisations must be used to promote hygiene and other issues. Needs have to be examined carefully in order to apply the best solution programme. The emphasis of projects is on integrated provision of infrastructure services, housing and community facilities. Job creation and capacity building receive particular attention in this context. “The National Housing Programme aims to meet the housing challenge by mobilizing and harnessing the resources, efforts and initiatives of communities, the private sector and the state to increase sustainable housing delivery.“[7]

3. Building habitable and safe communities

A very important aspect is the community-based social development because South Africa‘s urban areas can not be made habitable by providing the physical infrastructure only. The strategy of the government pursues social and human objectives as much as the economic and physical development. Economic and social development has to be linked because people are at the centre of any sustainable development. Their participation in efforts aimed at improving their conditions and the provision of technical support and other services which would encourage initiative, self-help and mutual help have to be combined. The provision of public community facilities receives special attention in the areas of health, education, sport and recreation. Social Security is another focus point in the strategy. Conscious effort has to be made to develop basic social services such as social grants, child and family services, provision for minority groups (aged and disabled persons) and deliberate job creation initiatives. Safety and security has to be maintained through addressing the socio-economic conditions which caused crime and violence and security force/ community initiatives which might reduce crime and violence have to be strengthened. To make these aims come true, the government has to work closely together with institutions like churches, NGO’s, local community organisations etc. I believe that this is the way to realize habitable, healthy communities, which meet the demands of the people.

4. Promoting urban economic development

The capacity of the urban areas to produce greater economic activity, to achieve growth and competitiveness and to reduce urban property, has to be uplifted. The direct job opportunities and the greater effect of the implementation of urban development programmes has to be risen, too.

5. Creating institutions for delivery

The public sector has to become more goal-orientated and better monitored management and development-focused priority setting has to take place. The coordination in the departments and the government must be improved. Partnerships between the public and private sectors and the communities are required. “The transformation of local government within a wider context of public sector transformation and refocused and reshaped fiscal and financial arrangements will be of major significance.“[8]

The Urban Development Strategy of the GNU emphasises community based help. Social services can not be ‘delivered‘ to a community. They have to be build into the local culture and daily life to make the services sustainable. No one knows better about the needs than the people in the community, who are faced with the problems every day. Therefore centralized decision making has to be combined with the insider‘s knowledge about local conditions. Integration is necessary and participation is a prerequisite for integration. Society must be allowed to administer itself more flexibly, in accordance with the characteristics of each municipality. Simpler and more direct mechanisms of participation by key players at local level- business, unions, community organizations, traditional leadership and others are significant for urban development.


[1] http://www.polity.org.za/govdocs/rdp/urban1.html page 2.

[2] Smith, 1992: page 232.

[3] Nattrass, 1983: page 21.

[4] Nelson Mandela, The Urban Development Strategy White Paper, http://www.polity.org.za/govdocs/rdp/urban1.html page 1.

[5] http://www.polity.org.za/govdocs/rdp/urban1.html page 3.

[6] http://www.polity.org.za/govdocs/rdp/urban2.html page 9.

[7] http://www.polity.org.za/govdocs/rdp/urban1.html page 5.

[8] http://www.polity.org.za/govdocs/rdp/urban1.html page 7.

Excerpt out of 18 pages


Possible directions that South Africa needs to follow regarding urban development, in view of the experiences in Chile and the Urban Development Strategy of the South African Government
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University  (School of Social Sciences and Humanities)
Course: Urban Anthropology (SA 402)
1 (A)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
459 KB
Possible, South, Africa, Chile, Urban, Development, Strategy, South, African, Government, Course, Urban, Anthropology
Quote paper
Lenka Tucek (Author), 2001, Possible directions that South Africa needs to follow regarding urban development, in view of the experiences in Chile and the Urban Development Strategy of the South African Government, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/20047


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