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SALGA President Councillor Parks Tau says land usage and spatial planning are key in addressing the land issue


Posted: 11 May 2018


SALGA President Councillor Parks Tau says the local government as a sphere, which is a coalface of basic service delivery and realising public goods, welcomes public, legal and parliamentary discussions on linking the spatial transformation agenda with tangible empowerment of municipalities to comprehensively address challenges of development, access and opportunities to services, urban inclusivity, and better resource allocation.

Councillor Tau was speaking at the opening day of the three-day Local Government Week, in Parliament, Cape Town. SALGA and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) jointly hosted the three-day (08 – 10 May) event .  The overall theme for the LGW is “Land Use: Towards Integrated Spatial Planning” and heralds numerous papers and discussions which will characterize the scheduled debates during the week. 
Councillor Tau says without the land, we cannot do reasonable justice to the theme at hand if we do not contextualise what we mean by land usage and spatial planning. “Land is a tradeable asset that has economic and commercial value. It is a commodity that can be marshalled by the state and in the market for both inclusion and exclusion,” he said.

Councillor Tau says the social engineering project of apartheid was based on leveraging land use, for some, while denying wealth generation through land use or production, for many. He said the democratic dispensation, our task hinges on reversing racialised land allocation at the same time as we deal with emergent spatial class divisions. “The post-1994 dispensation has taught us that it is no longer tenable to deal with provision of land and tenure of security by dependence on pure market principles as the economist, Thomas Piketty highlights in his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2014). Rather, targetted state intervention is necessary, and unavoidable, if we are to address policy flaws and persistent unequal spatial patterns in our cities, towns and informal settlements,” he said.

Councillor Tau says SALGA welcomes policy discussions and strategic interventions meant to deal, catholically, with spatial mismatch and spatial equity that manifests itself in, for example, urban sprawl, disproportionate services provision, disintegrated transport systems, densified semi-urban settlements. “As we all know what is meant by the ‘spatial mismatch hypothesis’, it simply refers to what the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) calls the poverty-periphery trap that says, “living on the periphery leads to poverty, while poverty ensures living on the periphery”, he said.
Councillor Tau says SALGA endorses the principles of spatial planning transformation enshrined in the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act No. 16 of 2013 or, in short SPLUMA.

Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA)
Councillor Tau says SPLUMA is a most critical legal intervention needed to undo, reverse and transcend apartheid spatial patterns and promote efficient planning and land use management.
Councillor Tau says spatial justice is a cardinal pillar of SPLUMA as underlined in the section stipulating that spatial development frameworks and policies at all spheres of government must address the inclusion of persons and areas that were previously excluded, with an emphasis on informal settlements, former homeland areas and areas characterised by widespread poverty and deprivation.

“Such a policy framework intervention synchronises with other legislation frameworks, such as the National Development Plan (NDP) and the Integrated Urban Development Framework, which CoGTA is leading in, with other social partners, in its conceptualisation, implementation and monitoring. It must be remembered that these policy frameworks – namely the National Development Plan (NDP), the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) and SPLUMA – are strategic responses to resolve the land question and spatial injustices,” he said.

“The implementation of these strategic interventions and related legislations would be efficiently harmonised in all the three spheres of government, and more so, at local government level - since that is the engine of basic service delivery,” he said.

Councillor Tau says it needs to be recalled that SPLUMA is not solely the responsibility of local government to implement and monitor. “As we have explained on several occasions, the local government sphere does not have overriding control and jurisdiction over land under its authority. Instead, this power and control resides in either the provincial, national, state-owned enterprises or the private sector,” he said.    

Land Use Management
Councillor Tau says land use and equitable spatial planning is a bread-and-butter matter. It has material significance for all of our people irrespective of race, class, geography of ideological orientation. It is precisely and polarising issue because it is a sensitive and painful subject. The negative effects of its inequitable implementation are witnessed in skewed spatial patterns, inequitable service delivery provisions, unbalanced rate payment systems, and in innumerable service delivery protests - plus land invasions.

He said the justified anger and frustration felt by largely the urban poor and marginalised communities, not only places pressure on our limited local government resources, but also imply that land policy frameworks have to be converted into tangible outcomes that make a difference in the lives of citizens and communities. “Nevertheless, as we emphasised in our response to the President’s 2018 State of the Nation Address (SONA), land use and spatial justice is more than about land redistribution, restitution and redress. As politically legitimate these historical interventions are in 2018, up to 82% of land claims are concentrated in cities,” he said.

Councillor Tau says addressing historical injustice from, primarily, racialised land redistribution that turned the majority population into aliens from their birthright or interlopers in their own land, what will be required are sustainable and lasting solutions to address poverty, unemployment and inequality. He said there are benchmarks and instrumental tools SALGA can use and apply in the local environment, such as those conceptualised by the Global Land Tool Network. These tools include:

  • access to land and tenure of security that involves family and group rights, enumerations for tenure security, deeds or titles;
  • land management and planning which entails, among others, citywide slum upgrading, regional land use planning;
  • land administrations and information whose focus is on, for example, modernising of agencies budget approach; and
land-based financing that encapsulates land tax for financial and land management.
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