MISSION POSSIBLE. Represent the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality at the South African Urban Conference 2018 on 30 and 31 October as cities need to strategically plan and implement the Integrated Urban Development Framework. This means work smarter for the common good to create efficient urban environments where residents can freely live, work and play.
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE. Stay indoors and do not wander outside the hotel premises. This stern warning even prequeled the efficient issuing of hotel keys at the City Lodge Newtown, Johannesburg and it quickly became abundantly clear why. The two-day conference not only brought role-players from civil society, government, interest groups and business together, it also made a striking statement for the critical importance of inner city renewal. The exquisitely renovated Turbine Hall (The Forum) also in Newtown, Johannesburg is a catalyst for economic activity on a site that was once a sad reminder of decay and neglect. The overzealous driving of taxi drivers competing to brazenly skip red traffic lights more menacing than their competitors, the obvious need for some road repairs and the state of some buildings suggest that inner city renewal needs a further boost in this part of town.
As conscientious South Africans we accepted the safety warnings with little protest, as those offering it, seemed to genuinely have our best interest at heart.
Delegates: Makhosazane Nxumalo, South African Cities Network, Tamlynn David, Mandela Bay Development Agency, Charmaine Williams, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM), Dr Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and Rebecca Gatang'i, Sheona Claasen and Kupido Baron all from the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality shortly before proceedings started.
With our wandering spirit and curiosity effectively quashed, our minds were squarely focused on the job at hand.
Chief Operating Officer of the South African Cities Network (SACN), Sithole Mbanga, reminded us that growing cities like Nelson Mandela Bay have a distinct advantage as opposed to a metropolis like Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban amongst others (see video).
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Zweli Mkhize, said the inaugural conference, held in 2017, was aimed at building knowledge and awareness about the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF), which is a key local policy platform for advancing the National Development Plan and the Sustainable Development Goals, paticularly Goal 11: Making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
"This second conference takes us further to design and implement urban policies and interventions across our towns and cities.
"Government has embraced the reality of urbanization in our cities and towns. We are no longer debating whether or not we should be concerned about urbanization. Our NDP has estimated that by year 2030, more than 70% of South Africa's population will be residing in urban centers," Mkhize said.
We might not have had the same courage as an Ethan Hunt from Mission Impossible to fight off the ill-effects of criminal intent, lurking in the dark corners of the city centre of Johannesburg and its depressing aftermath, but we walked away inspired to be change agents. Living, to fight another day for a more inclusive society with strategic development goals, proved to be too enticing as well.
Member cities of the South African Cities Network are Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, City of Johannesburg, City of Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini, Mangaung, Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality and the Msunduzi Municipality.
View the SACN State of City Finances Report 2018.
View the Integrated Urban Development Framework.