The celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter, taking place in Kliptown, Soweto on 26 June, will be an opportunity for the City of Joburg to “recommit to the vision of this world-changing document”, says Executive Mayor Parks Tau.

Joburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau and his wife, Pilisiwe Twala-TauJoburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau and his wife, Pilisiwe Twala-Tau, at the Metro Centre in Braamfontein ahead of his State of the City address on Wednesday, 6 May. (Photo: his State of the City address at the Metro Centre in Braamfontein on Wednesday, 6 May, Mayor Tau reminded his audience that the Joburg 2040 Growth and Development Strategy had been inspired by the process that had delivered the Freedom Charter.

“The gathering at Kliptown in 1955 was preceded by a nationwide campaign. The hopes and aspirations of ordinary people were canvassed and captured on small pieces of paper” before being collated into a document that forms the basis of the country’s Constitution.

The Joburg 2040 strategy, Mayor Tau said, is similarly “a broad-based plan constructed on thousands of inputs from ordinary people,” which “clearly commits us to transformation in order to deliver inclusive growth and development-driven resilience for all”.

The Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) has allocated R20-million for refurbishing the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication in Kliptown, the site of the signing of the Charter.

Building on the work done on the regeneration of Kliptown and the establishment of the Walter Sisulu Square ahead of its official opening by then president Thabo Mbeki in June 2005, the refurbishment project aims to turn the Square into an attractive place of work and leisure for residents, tourists, street traders, office workers and shop keepers.

“The concept is to change the character of the Square from a hard open space into public gardens,” JDA development manager Joselyne Davids said at the beginning of the year. “This will involve introducing soft landscaping in the form of trees, grass and flowerbeds, improved lighting, children’s play areas, and public seating.”

The project has been divided into three phases, the first of which will focus on the eastern side of the Square, especially the arrival zone and the circular route marked by the 10 pillars representing the 10 clauses of the Freedom Charter.

“Madame Speaker, as pronounced so powerfully at Kliptown 60 years ago next month, this nation – and indeed, this city – belongs to all who live in it,” Mayor Tau said in his address on Wednesday.

“The Joburg 2040 vision sets us the challenge of innovative and transformative approaches to developmental city government. This is the challenge we must transform into an opportunity to guarantee a tomorrow that is better than today.”