South Africa has embarked on a massive program for its ever growing urban population says Andries Neil, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, South Africa, through Integrated Urban Development Framework
South Africa has recently introduced Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF). Can you please elaborate what this concept is all about and how it is being implemented in South Africa?
South Africa is urbanising very rapidly. Already two thirds of South Africa’s population of fifty million is living in urban areas. This is set to cross seventy percent by 2030 and eighty per cent by 2050. There are many positive aspects of urbanisation. Cities bring people together in close proximity and economic activities flow and jobs get created. On the other hand, if we do not manage urbanisation well, we have vast informal settlements in which living conditions are very bad and then you get environmental degradation and urbanisation of poverty.
It is for this reason South Africa has adopted IUDF. That gives expression to the vision contained in our national development plan of creating cities that are livable, safe and inclusive, efficient and in which citizens play a major role in the governance. This is what IUDF seeks to achieve.
South Africa has been a society divided on racial lines. How have you been able to bridge the gap that existed in the society and bring that much desired inclusiveness?
In many respects South Africa has made phenomenal progress in the past 22 years. We have dismantled the legal aspect of apartheid. We have put in place a democratic constitution that recognizes the rights and dignity of all our citizens. It spells out not only the political rights but also the socio-economic rights that are necessary for a dignified life. Secondly, we have built strong democratic institutions and thirdly we have rolled out basic services to millions and millions of South Africans. We have been able to provide three and half million free houses. The one challenge has been with reversing the legacy of apartheid special segregation and planning.
South Africa also has to play an important role in African continent given its size. Many small countries around it have their own problems like civil war and military rule among others. How have you been able to convey to them to establish democracy and rule of law?
South Africa has been able to achieve it with the support of a community of nations that believe in democracy, human rights and human dignity. The African continent stood behind us and some neighboring countries paid a heavy price for supporting our struggle for democracy. We don’t want to be presumptuous and say that now we have achieved democracy with the support of others so now we should turn around and lecture others. That is not our approach.
Another important area is that of gender equality. What is SA government doing to promote women leadership in local bodies as well as central government?
The question of gender equality is a fundamental one in the process of SA’s transition to democracy. At the level of national parliament there is the representation of women between forty to fifty percent. Figures are very similar in provinces. In the local governments, the situation is a little bit more complex. At the national and provincial level we work on a purely proportional representation system. We work on the party list. So it’s much easier to fix gender parity.