South Africa is engaging fully with the New Urban Agenda, and posing some fundamental questions about what it means to be a planner in today's world.
In 1995 I was invited to speak to a landmark conference in South Africa for the transition of planning after apartheid. I reported on my visit in my monthly magazine column.
The brutal murder of Emmanuel Sithole in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra is a frightening sign of the potential for ethnic divisions to destroy social cohesion and economic growth. It undermines the moral leadership that South Africa has been able to exercise since the end of apartheid. It is part of a pattern of Afrophobia and hatred directed at migrants from other parts of Africa.
A chilling article connects the violence on the township streets to attitudes in corporate boardrooms and failures of political leadership. With Africa such a key market for South African companies, the reaction of consumers across the continent is likely to result in economic damage. As always in cities, everything affects everythng else and actions have impacts far beyond administrative boundaries.
This blog was first posted on the Planning resource website on 15 August 2011.
The recently published report of the State of South Africa’s Cities makes extensive use of the concept of “resilience”. This is a theme that I discussed in a previous blog a couple of months back. However, as far as I know, the South Africans are the first to use it as a building block for a major national report. Thus “Towards Resilient Cities: Reflections on the first decade of a democratic and transformed local government in South Africa 2001-2011” is interesting both for its use of the concept and for what it has to tell us about what is happening in South Africa. In addition, it comes at a time when work is being progressed by the Commonwealth Association of Planners and others on a Commonwealth Urban Agenda and a Commonwealth set of urban indicators.