The resilience of South African cities a decade after local democracy

SOURCE: Environment and Planning A
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2014
TITLE AUTHOR(S): I.Turok
KEYWORDS: CITIES, DEMOCRACY, POST APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 8227
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/2427
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11910/2427

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Abstract

South Africa emerged from a cataclysm two decades ago to experience a stable democratic transition during which the local government system was transformed. The creation of large metropolitan municipalities was intended to accelerate socioeconomic development and urban restructuring in order to overcome the legacy of segregation and exclusion. This paper assesses their achievements, ten years on, using the concept of resilience as the analytical frame. Resilience helps to examine cities as interconnected systems open to external influences but with some capacity for self-organisation and learning. It is useful for exploring the coexistence of urban continuity and change. Evidence shows that the responses of South Africa city authorities to globalisation, urbanisation, and democracy have been circumscribed. Continuity and incremental change have been more evident than transformation and development. Hesitant progress exposes cities to the risk of greater social instability. Insights from resilience theory support the idea that enhanced municipal capabilities could facilitate a more enduring outcome.