The areas that have been targeted are Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain in Cape Town, Inanda, Ntuzuma and KwaMashu (INK) in Durban, Mdantsane and Motherwell in the Eastern Cape, Alexandra in Johannesburg and Galeshwe in the Northern Cape. On the face of it the programme does not appear to have made much difference to most of these areas. Alexandra is a notable exception, however, where considerable resources have been directed, some flowing from the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Members of the community have been relocated from informal housing on the banks of the Jukskei river, where they were at risk from flooding, to formal houses. Some 20 000 housing units have also been planned for the area and a number of other initiatives are under way and set out on the Alexandra Renewal Programme’s website, which paints a picture of intergovernmental cooperation, and sets out a programme of events and a range of exciting new developments.
In other areas, the coordinated response to the challenge of urban renewal has been much weaker. In Cape Town, the municipal budget reveals that little special attention has been paid to Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha, even though nearly a third of Capetonians live in these massive dormitory towns situated on the outskirts of the city. In addition, the intergovernmental cooperation that is needed to tackle the real social and economic problems that exist in these communities is not clearly evident. For instance, the recently-released crime statistics reveal that Khayelitsha is the most dangerous area in the country, yet there has been no statement by the three spheres of government as to how they plan to deal with this problem. Researcher Valerie Hindson says that the imple-mentation of the Urban Renewal Programme has been, “slow and patchy”. She says this is partly the fault of local government as it lacks the capacity to drive programmes of this scale, which aim to affect the lives of hundreds of thousands and require the deployment of considerable financial and human resources. In addition, the R2,3-billion allocated to the pro-gramme by the national Department of Provincial and Local Government is difficult to access with its slow process of project formulation and approval, and provincial governments, with the exception of Gauteng, seem to pay little attention to the programme. As the country’s third democratic election looms closer, residents of these areas will no doubt raise questions about the progress of the programme, and they will be entitled to honest responses from those that seek to represent them.