The future of South Africa’s cities and towns : President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2019 State of the Nation Address

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2019 State of the Nation Address was delivered on 20 June 2019. Below are extracts from his speech that are relevant to the planning, development and design of South Africa’s cities and communities.

On Rail :

“We want a South Africa that has prioritised its rail networks, and is producing high-speed trains connecting our megacities and the remotest areas of our country. We should imagine a country where bullet trains pass through Johannesburg as they travel from here to Musina, and they stop in Buffalo City on their way from Ethekwini back here.”

On New Cities :

“I dream of a South Africa where the first entirely new city built in the democratic era rises, with skyscrapers, schools, universities, hospitals and factories. This dream has been fuelled by my conversations with four people: Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Dr Naledi Pandor, Ms Jessie Duarte and President Xi Jinping, whose account of how China is building a new Beijing has helped to consolidate my dream. This is a dream we can all share and participate in building.

We have not built a new city in 25 years of democracy. Seventy percent of South Africans are going to be living in the urban areas by 2030. The cities of Johannesburg, Tshwane, Cape Town and eThekwini are running out of space to accommodate all those who throng to the cities. Has the time not arrived for us to be bold and reach beyond ourselves and do what may seem impossible? Has the time not arrived to build a new smart city founded on the technologies of the 4th Industrial Revolution? I would like to invite South Africans to begin imaging this prospect.”

Also read : Here’s what happened to South Africa’s R84 billion smart city

On Economic Development :

“Through spatial interventions like special economic zones, reviving local industrial parks, business centres, digital hubs and township and village enterprises, we will bring economic development to local areas. We will also focus on small medium enterprises in our cities, townships and rural areas and create market places where they trade their products.”

On Tourism :

“We will make good on our ambition to more than double international tourist arrivals to 21 million by 2030.”

On land reform:

“We have received the report of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture, which will now be presented to Cabinet for consideration. The panel’s recommendations will inform the finalisation of a comprehensive, far-reaching and transformative land reform programme. In the immediate term, government will accelerate efforts to identify and release public land that is suitable for smart, urban settlements and for farming.”

On Infrastructure :

Infrastructure is a critical area of investment that supports structural transformation, growth and job creation. It is essential to our economic rejuvenation, to giving meaning and effect to our new dawn.

Our new approach to infrastructure development is based on stronger partnerships between the public and private sectors, and with local communities. It includes a special package of financial and institutional measures to boost construction and prioritise water infrastructure, roads and student accommodation through a more efficient use of budgeted money.

As announced in the previous SONA, Government has set aside R100 billion to seed the Infrastructure Fund. We are working to institutionalise the fund, which will be managed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa, with the newly configured Department of Public Works and Infrastructure playing an oversight role. We have been doing this in consultation with private investors, such as pension funds, who are enthusiastic about participating in the Infrastructure fund.

These reforms will ensure better planning of infrastructure projects, rigorous feasibility and preparatory work, improved strategic management, impeccable execution and better governance. This will provide a much-need boost to the construction sector.”

On Youth Unemployment :

The fact that the unemployment rate among young South Africans is more than 50% is a national crisis that demands urgent, innovative and coordinated solutions. And because more young people are entering the labour force every year, the economy needs to create far more jobs for youth than it currently does merely to keep the youth unemployment rate steady. The brutal reality is that when it comes to youth unemployment, we have to run just to remain in the same place.

It is therefore essential that we proceed without delay to implement a comprehensive plan – driven and coordinated from the Presidency – to create no fewer than two million new jobs for young people within the next decade.

This plan will work across government departments and all three tiers of government, in partnership with the private sector.

We are already working with the private sector to create pathways into work for young people through scaling up existing pathway management networks.”

On Service delivery in Municipalities:

We will be adopting a district-based approach – focusing on the 44 districts and 8 metros – to speed up service delivery, ensuring that municipalities are properly supported and adequately resourced.”

Access the full text here.

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