Changing the face of Mdantsane
The Urban Renewal Programme is a government initiative, announced by President Mbeki during the State of the Nation Address in 2001, aimed at speeding up service delivery and improving the quality of life of communities living in eight identified townships.
Key to this programme is:
“To fight poverty and underdevelopment through job creation, infrastructure development and the stimulation of growth”.
One of the nodes selected was Mdantsane, a sprawling township some 25km east of East London, and a vital part of Buffalo City.
WITH a lifespan of 10 years, the programme is run under the auspices of the National Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) to promote coordinated service delivery in eight selected Urban Renewal Nodes in the country.
It targets urban communities, with a special focus on vulnerable groups such as women, youth, the aged and the disabled.
The urban renewal programme’s objectives are:
- To address poverty alleviation and underdevelopment by focusing the resources of all of government on the nodes. The aim would be to maximize the quality and the quantity of service delivery to the poor.
- To achieve increased equity, by bringing these previously excluded communities closer to economic and social opportunities.
- To encourage socially cohesive communities, who are viable, safe, mutually supportive, productive and involved.
- To ensure integration between the spheres and sectors of government, understanding that to make a difference in the lives of poor people, all of government must work closely together.
- To enhance local government capacity to deliver, by building stronger and financially healthy municipalities, who are accountable to communities in the selected townships.
In the distance
THE township of Mdantsane has its roots in the apartheid era.
In the 1950s the East London City Council undertook to move the majority of the black inhabitants of East and West Bank to a new dormitory township 25km outside the city.
The aim was to create a fully-fledged town, semi-autonomous but economically integrated into white urban areas.
Between 1964 and 1970, thousands families were resettled in Mdantsane, but the envisaged growth into a city never materialised.
In its place there was instead a growth in unemployment and poverty, along with violence and crime.
With the establishing of the urban renewal programme, this is set to change.
MDANTSANE Urban Renewal Programme was launched by Buffalo City Municipality in October 2003.
A vision was set out to guide all future developments in the township:
“Mdantsane to be innovative place, socially inclusive, addressing the imbalances of yesterday, investing in today for a better tomorrow.”
It is envisaged that:
- Less people will travel outside to look for work
- It will be a safe place to live and invest
- There will be greater incomes and economic benefits
- The social & physical environments will be enhanced and
- The community will be proud of Mdantsane
This is linked to the vision of the Buffalo City Municipality:
“A people centred place of opportunity where the basic needs of all are met in a safe, healthy and sustainable environment.”
The Mdantsane Urban Renewal Programme has identified six key objectives that will ensure the aim of changing the face of the township will be realised.
|-To create habitable living environments
||-To create a living environment where people live, work and play
|-To create a vibrant & sustainable local economy
||-To support residents through the provision of jobs and economic opportunities
|-To reduce vulnerability and improved access to social services & economic opportunities
||-Improve access to social services, create a socially & culturally inclusive environment & ensure that vulnerable groups experience increased physical & social security & opportunities.
|-Improved stakeholder involvement and partnerships
||-Ensure that residents increasingly participate in decision-making and project implementation
|-Improved strategy, project implementation and co-ordination
||-Strengthen strategic planning, decision-making and prioritisation
|-Improved capacity for Urban Renewal Implementation
||-Capacitate the MURP Unit fully. Strengthen the relationship with institutions/departments that are also implementing projects in Mdantsane.
Formulation of partnerships with other URP Nodes.
Some of the focus areas proposed to guide the implementation of MURP are as follows:
To ensure that all programmes, projects and funding are located in the
geographical area of Mdantsane
- To encourage and support local initiatives
- To promote the use of local resources, assets, capabilities and talents
- To develop sustainable programmes rather than ad hoc projects