Dealing with the legacy of apartheid geography was high on the list of the Executive Mayor of the City of Joburg, Mpho Parks Tau, who was opening the first day of the Spatial Transformation of Cities Conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday, 05 March 2014.

The Mayor was joined at the opening session by Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Andries Nel. The Mayor told the 150 plus local and international delegates that “2001-2011 Johannesburg population increased by 1.2 million people with a projected increase to 8.1 million by 2016. In response to the growth and development strategy the City of Johannesburg was being bold in addressing head on the challenges that the city is confronted with. He added that all South African cities are built off the back of apartheid city planning.

The Spatial Transformation of Cities Conference: Johannesburg as a Laboratory hosted by the South African Cities Network (SACN) in partnership with the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) and the City of Johannesburg, and other local and international partners, began on Tuesday with a City Challenge which saw delegates exploring the challenges of public transportation in the City from CBD to Soweto, Alexander and Diepsloot.

The Mayor and Deputy Minister were present for a discussion panel where they took questions from the delegates.

Mayor Tau stated that “through the Joburg 2040 growth and development strategy, the City of Joburg is committed to implementing programmes and allocating resources in ways that will enable the city to turn around the legacy of apartheid geography and grow equitable and sustainable cities.”

The Deputy Minister told the audience that “through the National Development Plan (NDP) we have not been able to sufficiently confront the apartheid spatial patterns. We need to take into account the unique needs and different contexts of urban and rural areas. Urban and rural areas cannot be seen as opposites to one another, given specific historical development and rural urban migration patterns”. He further added that there is a need for the inactive citizenry to play an active and meaningful role in decision making. Many development choices are going to be difficult and will require consensus.

Mayor Tau added, “The Majority of our people live in rental accommodation. It is imperative that the city provides a wide range of rental accommodation options as a part of the new strategies and interventions.” In addition, he emphasized that there should also be increased economic access, which can be achieved through improved mobility. This is the new urban vision of the City of Johannesburg: The Corridors of Freedom.

The Corridors of Freedom aims to stitch the city together through transit oriented development corridors. These corridors will consist of high quality public transport and non-motorised transport infrastructure, combined with mixed-used developments, and improved living environments that provide decent shelter and access to social amenities.

In order to realise the Corridors of Freedom, Mayor Tau said that the City has identified strategic interventions that will consist of infrastructure development in certain areas and will create tools and incentives which will attract private sector investors, social housing entrepreneurs, and social housing practitioners.

The conference will continue until 6th March, the first day conference had presentations from international speakers representing spatial thinking from India, Brazil, Thailand, Belgium and UK, as well as South African experts from varying fields and institutions.

Presentations and pictures on the conference are available on the South African Cities Network website and social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkendIn and Instagram).

About South African Cities Network
The South African Cities Network is an established network of South African cities and partners that encourages the exchange of information, experience and best practices on urban development and city management. The network is both a source of information for leadership of South Africa’s largest cities and a catalyst for debate.

It is an initiative of the Minister for Provincial and Local Government and nine of the country’s largest municipalities, in partnership with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA).

The SACN Company is a non-profit voluntary organisation owned by and accountable to its members.

The network identifies, assembles and disseminates information that enhances the ability of decision-makers to learn from the experience of others and efficiently use their resources to build sustainable cities.

About the conference
South Africa Cities Network are hosting a Spatial Transformation of Cities Conference (Johannesburg as a Laboratory) on the 5th & 6th March 2014 in Johannesburg CBD, at Turbine Hall.

The Conference will address the legacy issues, it is imperative that cities are spatially transformed and restructured. Without a clear vision and plan for the transformation of our urban built environment, it will be very difficult for cities, and South Africa as a whole, to overcome the apartheid and class division spatial legacy.

South Africa’s city space economy is a key subject of interest at present. There are a number of urban growth and development policies and strategies that underpin this interest including the National Development Plan 2030.

Contact details:
Bomikazi Nkolongwane
Communications Specialist
Tel: 011 407 6264
Mobile: 083 242 2293