Cities are the engines of growth in the South African economy and metros have to take a wide view of their competitive advantages, in order to optimise this potential. The economy as a whole depends on it. Yet, within metros, there is still significant spatial inequality when it comes to the spatial location of economic opportunities.
Townships are often marginalised from the benefits of growth and constrained in their ability to contribute to growth, despite having some of the highest population densities in residence.
Such is the case for Soweto. Despite significant private and government investment in the area, Soweto remains underdeveloped and underserviced. It is therefore critical that the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) looks toward a more robust and systemic-level change. To do this, the Soweto Strategic Area Framework (SSAF) advocates high levels of stakeholder engagement and the mainstreaming of gender equality and social inclusion to help adopts a systems-level understanding of Soweto’s economy with all its complexity.
Emerging economies still face considerable challenges such as uncontrolled urbanisation, climate change and high and persistent inequality, which can lower long-term growth prospects. In 2075, the UK government created a new Cross-Government Prosperity Fund to help promote economic growth in emerging economies. The fund’s broad priorities include improving the business climate, competitiveness and operation of markets, energy and financial sector reform, and increasingly the ability of governments to tackle corruption. The Prosperity Fund supports broad-based and inclusive growth needed to build prosperity and reduce poverty, but also encourages making development more sustainable through the strengthening of institutions and improvement of the global business environment.
The Global Future Cities Programme (GFCP) is a specific component of the Prosperity Fund that aims to carry out targeted interventions to encourage sustainable urban development and increase prosperity whilst alleviating high levels of urban poverty. The Programme builds upon a coherent series of targeted interventions in 79 cities across 70 countries, including South Africa, to support and encourage the adoption of a more sustainable approach to urban development.
In general, the proposed interventions aim to challenge urban sprawl and slum developments, thereby promoting more dense, connected and inclusive cities that in combination contribute to prosperity, and further contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and implementing the New Urban Agenda.
In seeking alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs], the project approach aims to be:
The Global Future Cities Programme builds upon three integrated pillars to unlock prosperity in selected cities:
In South Africa, projects and scope were identified within three metropolitan cities, namely Cape Town, Johannesburg and eThekwini.
In partnership with the UK Prosperity Fund, the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) has selected and launched a pioneering project in Soweto, namely the Soweto Strategic Area Framework (SSAF).
The Future Cities South Africa (FCSA) has been appointed as delivery partner to deliver the RSA programme, including the SSAF. The FCSA team responsible for co creating the SSAF is a consortium led by PWC (Programme Manager), in partnership with Zutari (Project Lead), PDG, Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU NPC) and several independent experts.
In its 2040 Spatial Development Framework, the CoJ identified Soweto as one of its key intervention areas. The CoJ’s subsequent Nodal Review (2020) has also identified Soweto as having the potential to develop into a Regional Node. Soweto has also been noted as an area with potential of developing into a district that can play a large role in contributing to economic growth of the Gauteng City Region.
Despite its significant potential, Soweto is constrained by a number of challenges including an inactive property market, a population/ job density mismatch and land use entropy, amongst others. For these reasons, the SDF selected Soweto as an area that requires much needed intervention and strategic direction.
The compelling argument underpinning the choice of the identified study area is threefold:
From a spatial policy point of view, the SSAF seeks to align with existing spatial directives at national, provincial, and local government levels, whilst also charting the development course of the SOWETQ5Athrough targeted spatial and institutional interventions. The SSAF should be seen as a part of a broader set of cascading spatial planning policy and directives, as indicated in the diagram below.
In addition to the intention from a policy perspective, the SSAF also has several attributes in its role as an area framework, namely, to:
If the SSAF is successfully implemented, development will be done differently in Soweto. The SSAF and the associated stakeholder processes, together seek to inform stakeholders capacity and behaviours as follows:
These improvements are expected to lead to improvements in four broad outcomes – social inclusion, economic inclusion, spatial justice and environmental justice. Ultimately this would contribute to improved quality of life for residents within Soweto.
As mentioned earlier, Co-Creation, community participation and participatory planning has been a central component of the SSF’s processes and compilation.
In embracing a participatory and partnership approach, the project focuses on unearthing Soweto’s socio-economic potential, giving community voices from the beginning and throughout the development process. The focus is on people-centred development rather than service delivery. The project intends to support people, create jobs, reduce poverty, and reduce gender and social inequality.
Authentic participation only occurs when people are fully involved and empowered to articulate what they understand as their problems, to devise the means to tackle them and to play a full and active role in doing so. A joint effort of agency is required, where different spheres of government, various stakeholders and community, are equal partners. Capacity building, paired with transparency in information-sharing, significantly augment inclusivity in participatory processes. Effective participation relies upon people’s commitment and their ability to take ownership of decisions relating to their individual and communal development.
The participatory planning process has a fundamental role to inform and facilitate both the co-production of the SSAF and the setting up of an enabling Area-based Institutional Framework.
The design of the Soweto SAF participatory planning process draws from the five conditions for Collective Impact identified by Kania and Kramer .
It intends to lay the foundation to enable Collective Impact and a continuous social dialogue between the community and public sector, and trigger the active involvement of other sectors through the process.
1. Co-producing a Shared Vision — [Shared Vision and Objectives] To achieve a collective impact, all participants need to co-produce and endorse a shared vision for change, gain a common understanding of the issues and challenges, and identify a joint approach on addressing them through targeted projects and interventions. In alignment with international [SDGs], national, provincial and local government levels, finding a common agenda [manifesto/shared vision] is pivotal to unlock socio-economic potential in Soweto. It underpins and guide the selection of agreeable actions and giving a shared direction to everyone’s doings.
2. Establishing Backbone Support — [Governance, Systems and Processes] To implement the shared vision and achieve collective impact, enabling actors, community structure and public sector representatives need to form backbone supporting structures such as core leaderships and public sector area coordinating team, championing and partnering the development process. Each of these structures plays a critical role and coordination within and among them is paramount for meaningful change. Coordination takes time, training, and practice.
3. Implementing Mutually Reinforcing Activities — [ Joint Actions and Pooled Resources] Collective impact requires specific joint are reinforcing projects and programmatic interventions. It builds upon a shared understanding of each stakeholder potential and role. The result would be greater than the sum of all interventions by encouraging each stakeholder to take a targeted role and through effective coordination.
4. Committing to Continuous Communication — [Joined up communications and Collaborative Culture] Continuous communication, information sharing and transparency are necessary to enable meaningful change throughout the participatory process. Acknowledging that problems, misunderstanding, failures will most likely occur amongst stakeholder groups, it is critical to harness and leverage conflict management skills.
5. Defining Shared Measurement Systems — [Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning] The manifesto provides an assessment matrix with agreed city-making imperatives which are measurable through targeted indicators. A shared measurement system could measure the progress toward the common agenda [manifesto/shared vision] holding each stakeholder accountable for the agreed actions.
The SSAF participatory process comprised three phases:
The first phase of the participatory planning process is about collecting informants and mapping stakeholders’ voices. It is about laying a solid foundation to inform the future Soweto SAF. A more in-depth understanding of Soweto [study area] emanates these various activities:
Stakeholder mapping: The participatory process begins by identifying the relevant stakeholder groups who should be actively involved. These include directly affected stakeholders, enabling actors and most importantly vulnerable groups.
Preliminary Engagements: Preliminary engagements with the community are critical to map local and directly affected stakeholders, introduce the project on the ground and begin the social dialogue.
This step involved a significant investment in time and resources, and was achieved under adverse conditions brought on by Covid19. Despite this, the following was achieved during this step:
During the Why Soweto? Workshop, local stakeholders mapped opportunities, constraints, and challenges they experience living in the Soweto study area.
Why Soweto? Workshops with Community
The Why Soweto? Workshops captured the local needs, lived constraints and opportunities from the perspective of the community. In these workshops, community members give voice to their needs and lived experiences.
Why Soweto? Workshops with Public Sector
The Why Soweto? Workshops addressing the public sector focused on collating the various departments’ current projects and interventions, and the lessons learnt while planning and operating within the Soweto study area.
Urban Design mapping, specialised baseline studies and surveys
The FCSA professional team conducted a series of baseline studies, surveys, and research to augment a deeper and technical understanding of the study area. The Urban Design mapping is critical and complements the participatory work, to understand how spatial injustice and structural violence plays out at various scales and levels.
Feedback findings from the ‘Why Soweto?’ workshops were presented to the community. The Community review process is essential, enabling them to verify whether their perspectives and insights have been adequately captured.
The following was achieved during steps two and three:
The second phase of the participatory planning process focuses on collectively creating a shared vision, through vision workshops with the community and public sector. A common agenda, referred to as the Manifesto, guides the making of a Shared Vision or Concept. These are directly informed by the community wish-list of projects and interventions captured in the Community Action Plan.
Besides workshops, in this phase, there are three main outputs:
The Vision/CAP workshops provide the community with the opportunity to voice their expectations and put forward community-owned solutions to the issues identified in the previous workshops. These workshops also offer the space to draft a common agenda.
The compilation of a Manifesto aims to guide the development of a shared vision by defining agreed development imperatives aligned to community visions and local knowledge, and international, national, provincial and local policies, frameworks and strategies. The Manifesto is there to guide and smoothen the decision-making process.
A shared vision is the collective idea of the future for the Soweto focus area. A vision statement describes the possible future, while a conceptual drawing depicts such vision, identifying key public investment focus areas, links, and strategic elements essentials to its achievement.
Community Action Plan
The Community Action Plan is a plan of strategies and interventions to be undertaken in a specific geographic area guiding the development process. Initially formulated by the community at the vision / CAP workshops. The CAP is further sharpened and detailed in partnership with the CoJ and the FCSA professional team.
The feedback/endorsement workshops ensure the verification and endorsement of the Manifesto, Shared Vision, and the respective CAPs. Community and public sector review them to verify whether they adequately capture their perspectives and insights.
The solutions workshop provides a platform for the community to put forward community-owned solutions to the issues identified in the previous workshops
The Community Reference Group (CRG) comprises 60 members representing the 14 wards who were part of the study. Key to the process is a bottom-up input to generate the insights required for relevant institutional policymaking and technical (expert) programming and intervention.
The Manifesto and Vision workshops are designed to gain a deeper understanding of the latent socio-economic potential of Soweto. The engagements were structured around 8 key themes:
The process delivers insights, priorities, and potential solutions from the community, links these to key government priorities, which enables the technical professional teams to design relevant interventions. This creates real collective impact!
To achieve a collective impact, all participants need to co-produce and endorse a shared vision for change, gain a common understanding of the issues and challenges, and identify a joint approach on addressing them through targeted projects and interventions. In alignment with international [SDGs], national, provincial and local government levels, finding a common agenda [manifesto/shared vision] is pivotal to unlock socio-economic potential in Soweto. It underpins and guide the selection of agreeable actions and giving a shared direction to everyone’s doings.
The manifesto provides an assessment matrix with agreed city-making imperatives, which are measurable through targeted indicators. A shared measurement system could measure the progress toward the common agenda [manifesto/shared vision] holding each stakeholder accountable for the agreed actions.
In closing, the Soweto Participatory Process aims to Co-design a shared vision and a development strategy with mutually reinforcing projects, fostering collaboration and partnership. And to set up an institutional framework to implement and run projects over time, ensuring long-term sustainability.