IN HIS Freedom Day speech on April 27, President Jacob Zuma issued a sharp reminder of our failure to address the legacy of urban segregation: “Our people still have to daily confront the impact. Many still live in areas once designated for black people away from economic opportunities and civic services.”
This indicates renewed concern within the government about the imbalances in SA’s spatial economy. The “spatial mismatch” in cities has actually been getting worse because of the disproportionate rise in the population of townships and informal settlements on the periphery, while formal jobs have been growing in a handful of economic nodes in and around the affluent suburbs. The outcome is unfair, inefficient and unsustainable.
Reshaping the urban form is a slow process because of the durability of fixed capital investment and the rights of adjacent property owners to contest redevelopment proposals. Transforming SA’s cities is particularly complicated by the degree of social inequality inscribed into the built environment, and inexperienced civic leadership.
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