City of Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau on Wednesday told delegates at a briefing about the issues African cities were facing in Johannesburg that “Johannesburg has an influx of 10,000 people every month”. Tau said migrants seeking a better life in Johannesburg, the country’s biggest city, “need to be integrated”.
“In Johannesburg, we believe that urbanisation comes with opportunities, and it is all about harnessing these opportunities,” he said. The mayor was speaking alongside a panel ahead of the seventh Africities Summit, which the city would host in November.
African cities face many challenging issues, which delegates have identified ahead of the summit. They also noted the importance grassroot communities play in deepening democracy through taking responsibility for their own local governance.
The panel consisted of Tau, South African Local Government Association (SALGA) Chairman and Mangaung Mayor, Councillor Thabo Manyoni and Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA).
Mbassi, who started the Africities Summit, said it was time for African communities to get rid of the detrimental culture of entitlement because it “is not a culture that builds”. “We need to move away from this and take responsibility for our future. People should not wait to ask what their country has done for me; they should work on building the response that is needed to fix the country’s problems. Local government is the perfect platform to do this,” he said.
With Africa projected to become the most populous continent in the world by 2050, Mbassi pointed out that African countries and their people needed to unite to create wealth and a sustainable future.
“Unless people are capacitated to take part in their own governance, you can’t say that you are liberated,” Mbassi said. Tau said that the City of Johannesburg “has already begun linking critical city programmes to Agenda 2063, which spurs all of Africa’s people to play an active role to ensure a positive socio-economic transformation of the continent”.
He said Johannesburg was embarking on a developmental approach that aims to empower residents and boost service delivery. This was happening in the midst of pressure to do so as a result of urbanisation and issues migration brings.
“In Johannesburg, we believe that urbanisation comes with opportunities, and it is all about harnessing these opportunities. We want to capture the capabilities of young people to lead them to prosperity,” Tau said.
Tau said that key to flourishing African cities were structures that would “stop capital moving away from our cities”. He said cities should create infrastructure that attracts people with skills and encourages entrepreneurship, which contributes to job creation.
Nurturing trust “between government and all its stakeholders — particularly the citizens,” said Manyoni. He stated that this trust is essential, particularly for tax paying citizens who “need to have confidence in the management of their taxes”.
Manyoni said there “needs to be transparency to build trust, but at the same time, citizens can’t loot state resources”. Cities, he said, need to find ways to reinvent themselves, and find new, innovative solutions to challenges such as the influx of migrants. Smaller municipalities should look at how they can support and develop the rural economy — they need to provide better support and services to people living in these areas.
Mbassi said the Africities Summit would be a celebration of the “coming together of local authorities as the voice of the local people”. He said that it was up to African people to get rid of poverty.
“Nobody will build this continent, but the Africans themselves,” he said.
The seventh edition of the Africities Summit would take place in Johannesburg from November 15-17.