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Are South African cities becoming ungovernable again?

18 August 2016
12:30 - 13:30

HSRC State of the Nation Seminar Series



Professor Ivan Turok
Executive Director, Economic Performance and Development Unit, HSRC.

Date:      18 August 2016    

    12:30 – 13:30

  VCRs, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban


South Africa’s big cities have become more turbulent places in recent years, despite the creation of relatively strong metropolitan municipalities. The cumulative effects of growing unrest and disorder are far-reaching, given the importance of cities to national stability and prosperity. This seminar draws on a chapter in the State of the Nation volume to consider current threats to city governance and the underlying causes of disaffection. It distinguishes between external factors largely beyond the control of city authorities and factors over which they have greater agency and influence.

The argument is that both are relevant – the metros carry a heavy historical burden, but they could also have done more to transform conditions. One of the constraints faced has been an emphasis from national government on technocratic reforms, rather than a range of softer themes that are arguably more important for effective urban management, including considerations of vision and values, leadership character, long-term decision-making, policy coordination, and competencies to make complex judgements across line functions. It also covers everyday institutional practices which could help to resolve disputes, build confidence within civil society, and build a shared agenda for the city.

The HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of DST.

Kindly RSVP by 2  August 2016

Cape Town : HSRC, 12th Floor, Plein Park Building (Opposite Revenue Office), Plein Street, Cape Town. Contact Carmen August ,Tel (021) 4668004, Fax (021) 461 0299 or e-mail:

Durban :  The Atrium, 5th Floor, 430 Peter Mokaba Ridge, Berea, 4001 , Contact Ridhwaan Khan, Tel (031) 242 5400, cell: 083 788 2786 or , or Hlengiwe Zulu at e-mail

Pretoria : HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria. Arlene Grossberg, Tel: (012) 302 2811, e-mail: