State of the Cities Report 2006: South African Cities Network presentation

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

11 September 2006
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PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
12 September 2006
STATE OF THE CITIES REPORT 2006: SOUTH AFRICAN CITIES NETWORK PRESENTATION

Acting Chairperson: Mr M Lekgoro (ANC)

Documents handed out:
South African Cities Network Corporate profile 2006
South African Cities Network, State of the Cities Report 2006 (available at www.sacities.net)
Powerpoint Presentation The SACN PROGRAMME “An Integrated Approach to City Development Strategy”
Powerpoint presentation South African Cities Network

SUMMARY
The South African Cities Network gave a presentation covering its history, goals and achievements, membership, accountability and financing, particularly focusing on the second State of the Cities Report, which had recently been compiled. The Network aimed to achieve shared learning between different levels of government, and address issues of good governance, development and integration into the global arena. It had initially focused on the urbanised areas since cities were the sources of economic development and national economic drivers. The 2006 Report would give municipalities a better and more comparative sense of issues, and assist state and private concerns in their thinking and planning. It would also indicate how South Africa was slowly achieving the objectives of the Local Government White Paper and its targets. Strategic issues addressed by the Network included urbanization and migration, globalisation and economic restructuring, national economies, the changing forms of cities and the socio-economic disparities that resulted, and the apartheid legacy. Ten main challenges had been highlighted and were explained. The importance of 2010 for the city was highlighted, together with the appropriate measures that should be taken to ensure that a sound legacy remained after the event. Finally the presenters indicated that certain issues were critical in the long term, including the drawing of a National urban policy agenda, grant funding and fiscal incentives for urban development, abolition of Regional Services Council levies, implementation of the new Municipal Property Rates Act , asset management, restructuring the electricity distribution industry, and reallocation of powers and functions in the intergovernmental relations framework. Future activities of the Network were summarised.

Questions were raised on dissemination of information, the budget allocations and accessibility of information, whether the report extended to rural communities, the transport problems affecting the World Cup in 2010, and the participation expected from the Report.

MINUTES
South African Cities Network Briefing
Mr Sithole Mbanga (Chief Executive Officer, South African Cities Network (SACN)) briefly presented an overview of the history of the South African Cities Network. SACN was intended to achieve shared learning between different levels of government, in addition to addressing the issues of good governance, development and integration into the global arena. Its initial focus had been to network the urbanized areas of South Africa.
This focus was important since cities were the sources of economic development, and national economic drivers. Current projects included input to urban strategy, city development strategies, urban renewal and regeneration, HIV/Aids mitigation strategies, transport and tourism strategies and participation in international conferences.

The 2006 State of the Cities Report had now been produced. It differed from the 2004 report in that it was centred on issues of infrastructure. The Report would give municipalities a better and more comparative sense of issues. State Owned Enterprises and private entities would be assisted in strategic thinking. The Report would indicate how South Africa was slowly achieving the objectives of the Local Government White Paper and its targets. Mr Mbanga briefly outlined the titles and most important features of the chapters of the 2006 State of the Cities Report. He noted that strategic issues included urbanization and migration, globalisation and economic restructuring, national economies, the changing forms of cities and the socio-economic disparities that resulted, and the apartheid legacy.

Mr Andrew Boraine (Chairperson, SACN) explained that ten main challenges had been highlighted by SACN on the state of the South African Cities. There was a need to think in new ways about the urban space economy. This would requireds an examination of the regional flows of goods, services and people within the areas and calls for a planning perspective that looks beyond jurisdictional boundaries. The second challenge related to management of population dynamics, particularly dealing with mass migration. The third challenge focused on economic growth and equitable distribution of wealth; and it was noted that despite the increase in economic growth the numbers of unemployed had not decreased. The fourth challenge, which was particularly topical, related to enhancement of urban transport. Mr Boraine noted the increased congestion in all cities and the urgent need to address it before the 2010 Soccer World Cup. A further challenge related to overcoming the constraints of the apartheid cities. It was essential to create sustainable development. There was a need to deliver basic services, and to promote productivity and inclusivity, while maintaining existing infrastructures such as storm drains and sewage facilities. Sustainability would need to be taken seriously, and many outside funded activities taken on board by government. SACN believed it was vital to streamline urban governance as well as promote the feeling of urban citizenship. It was also important to mainstream innovation to include such issues as HIV/AIDS, housing and solar energy.

Mr Boraine briefly outlined the importance of 2010 for the city, and the appropriate measures that should be taken to ensure that a sound legacy remained after the event. He highlighted the need for careful planning of the transport system, sports facilities and public viewing points. He stressed that all spheres of government should work together to avoid any international reprimand or loss of faith in South Africa if its goals were not achieved.

Mr Boraine reported on the other issues that SACN believed were critical in the long term. These included the drawing of a National urban policy agenda, issues of Grant funding and fiscal incentives for urban development, abolition of Regional Services Council levies, implementation of the new Municipal property Rates Act to manage shifts in how properties were taxed and regulations on relative tax rates on different categories of property. Further issues were asset management, restructuring of the electricity distribution industry into six Regional Electricity Distribution points (REDs or ‘six plus one’, and intergovernmental relations framework, dealing with reallocation of powers and functions.

Finally, Mr Boraine summarised the activities of SACN. It would be attending and making a presentation at the African Cities Conference later in the month. Provincial workshops would be held from September 2006 to January 2007. There would be an inclusive City Conference in March 2007. SACN would participate in a Commonwealth Local Government Conference in New Zealand in March 2007.

Discussion
Mr S Mshudulu (ANC) asked whether the State of the Cities Report was accessible to students of development and institutions of learning, as well as to members of the public. He asked what type of analysis SACN would use to resolve an issue, such as transport, and to what extent SACN and its findings were flexible and could adjust to recommendations.

Mr Boraine answered that indeed this information was open to the public, and these reports were given to every mayor of every city for consideration. Furthermore SACN’s website allowed the report to be downloaded. He noted that information used to compile the report was gathered from public sources and was not sponsored by academic or government institutions. The possibility of adjustment of the Report following its dissemination was not discounted, as SACN encouraged interaction following the suggestions and their implementation. Hopefully the SACN report would be seen as encouraging discussion to allow for problem solving.

Mr W Doman (DA) asked SACN to outline its budget, the budget allocations and the numbers, particularly of the Secretariat. Furthermore he questioned how SACN’s Report was intended to convince or influence officials, and how these recommendations would be promoted to the people.

Mr Mbanga answered that the budget and membership were very small, but that there was the possibility of expansion to a continental level, after presentation of the report in Nairobi the following week. With regard to making the information accessible to the public, Mr Mbanga mentioned plans for a road show, which involved travelling to all cities to promote the report and its goals.

Mr Boraine added that the report was not written in such a way that it would criticize, or promote a defensive attitude, but rather was intended to ‘cheerlead and coach’ South African cities and encourage interaction with the suggestions. This had been successfully achieved in 2004 when there was positive interaction with officials in Gauteng.

The Acting Chairperson Chair’s asked whether the report covered the issue of development in rural areas. He also questioned social development and how this had been affected by fast growth of household units and the alteration of the traditional extended family unit structure.

Mr Boraine emphasised that rural communities were essential to overall development. He noted that rural towns contributed to the overall urban system, owing to their impact within their rural communities, and this was similar to the contribution of cities to the regional scale. He noted the importance of the connection between rural and urban cities and reiterated the need for cities to plan beyond boundaries and to encouraging this reform.

Mr I Mogase (ANC) asked SACN how it intended to overcome the problem that during 2010 many avid soccer fans would be located in the rural areas but be unable to participate in the event due to their location. He feared that 2010 would come and go and because of lack of opportunity for full participation the World Cup would not be a truly national event.

Mr Boraine stated that it was vital that transport must improve. He noted the danger of focusing simply on the creation of transport to the venues in order to service the events, which was all that FIFA’s agenda stipulated. It was vital rather to create an efficient transport network that would supply the rural areas and leave a strong legacy. He noted that this issue was of much importance anyway but had become particularly relevant with the World Cup planning.

Mrs S Motubatse (ANC), following other members, again queried the appropriate utilisation of the report and information by government departments. She also asked for clarity how the idea of ‘compact cities’ in the presentation would be implemented successfully in a South African situation.

Ms P Bengu (ANC) queried the dissemination of this information to the relevant ministries, especially focusing upon the need to address poor living standards of the informal settlements.

Mr Boraine expressed hopes that the upcoming road show and the presentation of the report in Nairobi would assist in the dissemination of the information. Furthermore, he noted again that the report was written to encourage participation from the relevant departments, and was based on familiar ground submitted by the departments themselves. He submitted that SACN itself did not have the answers to many of the questions, but aimed to identify the problems and engage different parties in the resolution of these problems.

The Acting Chairperson thanked the presenters and noted that the Committee needed to consider the information further.

The meeting was adjourned


 

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