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A comprehensive study of the state of South Africa’s cities and towns over the past decade has been released. It points, ultimately, to their resilience.
THE 2011 State of the Cities Report assesses progress made in all metros and secondary cities in South Africa in improving service delivery, advancing development and promoting good governance.


Yunus Carrim presents the State of the Cities ReportDeputy minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs, Yunus Carrim, presents the State of the Cities ReportIt covers 10 years, from 2001 to the current year, and identifies new municipal trends and some of the lingering challenges needing immediate attention. “The report points to the resilience [cities] have shown and will need to deal with issues largely beyond their control, such as in-migration, fluctuations in the global economy, levels of foreign direct investment and aspects of climate change,” said Yunus Carrim, the deputy minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs.

The 178-page document contains a review of all the cities in the country and was launched at a press briefing on 20 April at Turbine Hall, in Newtown. It is called Resilient Cities.

It states that limited progress has been made in transforming the geographical patterns inherited from the past and in promoting urban integration. It advises municipalities on how to improve their strategies, vision and resources. And it recommends that South African cities need to prepare for increasing prices of oil and other products, erratic and unpredictable rainfall patterns and other challenges.

It stresses the need to change the racial spatial patterns of cities and to improve their population density to encourage greater integration, lower transport costs and more effective use of limited energy resources.

Although the delivery of basic services in metros is better than in secondary cities, there is room for significant improvement.

Carrim pointed out that the report had examined common problems and opportunities facing cities, from economic, spatial, to structural, environmental, governmental and financial. “The suggestions it offers are intended to assist a new generation of civic leaders and officials who will be in charge of planning, developing and managing cities after the 2011 municipal elections,” he explained.

State of the Cities Report
Download full report here [In PDF format]
The report would be of particular value to policy makers, business and labour, including civil society activists. He said it would “broadly influence” policy-making. It had been compiled by a range of independent academic experts.

Sithole Mbanga, the chief executive of the South African Cities Network, said the report had placed particular emphasis on Johannesburg, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, Cape Town, eThekwini, Nelson Mandela Bay, Mangaung, Buffalo City and Msunduzi municipalities, because these had been restructured to be autonomous.

“These cities enjoyed a period of more robust growth and job creation than had been experienced in the previous two decades.”

Mbanga said investment in research and development, human capital, greater external connectivity and higher investment in physical capital were the main points of success for most cities. “Much more needs to be done so that they can spread prosperities to other municipalities [that] were not so resilient during the economic downturn,” he said.

For cities to be more effective they would need support from provincial and national governments as part of an integrated co-operative governance system.

Going forward, the report recommends that the developmental vision of metros must be refreshed. “Metro government must be stabilised and trust must be restored,” it reads.

The report is available on the South African Cities Network website. A hard copy is available on request, telephone 011 407 6471 or email The SACN is a network of South African cities and partners that encourages the exchange of information, experience and best practices on urban development and city management.

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