Annual Forum Papers

Rethinking scales? possible future(s) for regional-scale planning in South Africa

  • Year: 2008
  • Organisation: Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
  • Author(s): Eric Makoni
  • Countries and Regions: South Africa

The making of a 'new' South Africa has not been without its challenges. After the political miracle of 1994, political actors, policy-makers and academics had to transform repressive and apartheid predatory political machinery into a functional and inclusive and democratised polity. Inebriated by the euphoria of a newly found democracy, the political architects succeeded in creating a constitution based on the principles of non-racialism, non-sexism and equal rights. What also defined that politically action-packed dispensation was the crafting of a tri-spherical government system , an institutional/administrative structure that was neither centralist nor federal in nature Crafted in a miasmic and delicate political setting, the South African 'quasi-federal' institutional machinery was indeed a product of its time. The constitutional push for 'distinctive yet interdependent' spheres of government for instance, is indicative of the prevailing psychical and the projected spatial reconfiguration of space as well as those laying the boulders for a new South African state.

This paper attempts to explore the possibilities of promoting regional planning in a South African context where the battle for scalar supremacy continues to define the development planning agenda. Some questions posed here include the following: how can one define a region and regional planning in South Africa? Are provinces and/or districts well-geared and capacitated to tackle the country's developmental challenges in a regionally-oriented manner? Does South Africa need a 'new' regional development agency that can be mandated with defining and executing the country's regional development planning agenda? In attempting to answer the above, the first part will explore the genesis of provinces in South Africa, at the same time highlighting the emerging role of districts in promoting development planning in South Africa. The second part will then give a brief overview of regional planning from a new regionalist perspective, laying a foundation for a mark-out of the current state of planning tools at provincial and district level, within the context of intergovernmental planning. The third part will then