DCoG Deputy Minister Andries Nel

Keynote Address by Deputy Minister Andries Nel at Metropolis Annual Meeting Gala Dinner

Sanibonani, Dumelang, Molweni, Ndi madekwana, Goeie naand, Ri perile, Thobela, Lotjhani, Boa noite, Bon soir, As-salāmu ʿalaykum, Namaste.

Good evening and welcome to South Africa, Ningizimu Afrika, Afrika Tshipembe, Mzansi Afrika, Suid-Afrika, Afrika Borwa, Afrika Dzonga, Africa do Sul, Afrique du Sud.

I trust that protocol has been served in abundance today – in substantial main course portions earlier today, as well more modest starter portions earlier this evening.

South Africans, being the creative and somewhat unorthodox people that we are, have coined the useful catch-all phrase: “All protocol observed.”

I am not particularly fond of this national invention so I will instead protocol you as I observe you.

Suffice to say, that each and everyone one of you is a special guest in our country, you are welcome, we thank you for your presence and for your contribution to the important discussions taking place on Inclusive Metropolitan Cities and City-Regions.

We also thank you for your very welcome contribution to our tourist industry.

Please feel at home, feel free, and feel free to spend freely.

In the New Urban Agenda we committed ourselves: “to promote the integration of food security and nutritional needs in urban and territorial planning in order to end hunger and malnutrition.”

In line with this injunction, I have planned the territory of my speech very carefully so that South Africa is not accused of inflicting hunger and malnutrition on delegates attending this dinner.

But I feel that I would not be living up to the high standards of African hospitality if I failed to serve you at least a few words to offset the distasteful dish that was sent our way last week by someone whose fingers are as well known for their speed on the Twitter keyboard as his tweets are known for their ambiguous relationship with the truth and with reality.

This past week US President Donald Trump tweeted:

“I have asked Secretary of State Pompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.”

This is a sour serving indeed – ill-informed, reckless, divisive and, we trust, at odds with your own experience in South Africa.

On Wednesday last week our President, President Cyril Ramaphosa, answered questions in Parliament dealing with, amongst others reversing apartheid spatial injustice, division and exclusion and the land question.

Let me then offer you the following words from President Ramaphosa which speak directly to the theme of Inclusive Metropolitan Cities and City Regions. I quote:

“The urban spatial patterns that we inherited from apartheid, and which persist to this day, contribute to the reproduction of poverty and inequality – and must be fundamentally changed.

“It is unacceptable that the working class and poor, who are overwhelmingly black, are located far from work opportunities and amenities.

“Among other things, this places enormous pressure on family life.

“Working parents leave home early and return well after young children are, or should be, asleep.

“These long commuting times impact disproportionately on the household income of the poor.

“According to StatsSA, more than two-thirds of households in the lowest income quintile spend more than 20% of their monthly household income per capita on public transport.

“But the progressive transformation of our urban spaces is not just about radically addressing social poverty and racial inequities.

“We must make our cities generators of wealth and reservoirs of productivity.

“We need to eradicate the economic inefficiencies of transporting a workforce from dormitory townships into centres.

“The radical transformation of our urban spaces is, therefore, both a social and economic imperative.

“Through instruments like the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act and the Integrated Urban Development Framework, we are approaching spatial planning guided by principles of social equity and economic efficiency.

“We are focused on developing integrated human settlements located close to work and amenities, rather than just meeting housing targets.

“At the same, through a significant investment in the township economy, we are working to bring economic activity to where most of our people live.

“To accelerate spatial transformation, Cabinet resolved at its recent lekgotla on the rapid release of well-located, but under-utilised land to develop affordable, mixed-income human settlement.

“Much of this land is owned publicly by national departments, provincial governments, municipalities and state-owned companies. Some of this land is privately held for purely speculative purposes.

“We need to use every inch of under-utilised land for our people to live on and to farm.

“We have a responsibility – imposed on us by the Constitution – to ensure that all South Africans have security of tenure.

“We are committed to using expropriation, where appropriate, to achieve social and economic spatial transformation in towns and cities.

“To build the cities and towns that we want, it is critical that government, the private sector and the NGOs work together to create a sustainable growth model of compact, connected and coordinated urban areas by integrating and aligning investments.

“This should form part of the broader social compact envisaged in the National Development Plan, and which, in many different ways and on many different fronts, we are working to build.

“Elements of this approach are already found in the funding and fiscal framework of the Department of Human Settlements, which uses government grants, subsidies and investments to leverage private sector funding to make housing finance more accessible and affordable.

“Through such a compact, through the transformation of our urban spaces, by strengthening property rights for all, we can ensure that the poor and working class live in decent communities located near to economic opportunities – and that parents can return home from work long before their children need to go to sleep.”

We hope that these few words have helped to neutralize any acid in your stomaches and that you are ready to enjoy your dinner.

Ngiyabonga, Ke a leboga, Enkosi, Ndo livhuwa, Baie dankie, Ndzi khense, Muito obrigado, Meci beaucoup, Shukran, Thank you.