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‘State-sponsored housing reinforces apartheid spatial pattern’

Professor Ivan Turok says state-sponsored housing projects reinforce the old apartheid pattern where poor & working class people live far from city centres where most jobs are.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma officially opening the N2 Gateway Integrated Human Settlements Development at the Joe Slovo housing project in Cape Town. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Government policies are entrenching unequal access to land in and around cities rather than easing the problem, a panel chaired by former President Kgalema Motlanthe has been told.

The high-level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and Acceleration of Fundamental Change is holding a round-table discussion on spatial inequality in Parliament, focusing on people’s access to urban land.

The panel was set up by National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete last year to look at whether laws passed since 1994 are helping or hindering efforts to address poverty, unemployment, job creation, land reform and nation building.

Professor Ivan Turok of the Human Sciences Research Council says state-sponsored housing projects planned for the next two decades will reinforce rather than change the old apartheid pattern where poor and working class people live far from city centres where most jobs can be found.

“We need to stop this. We need jobs in these places, not more housing. Shipping people out. Politics is driving this. Government’s desperation to do something for the people, we build them houses, but we’re not thinking about where people are going to work.”

Turok is cautioning against a rigid, one-size fits all approach. He says land redistribution on its own is not a solution, and that a much more integrated approach, that includes planning for transport, health, education and other services is the way forward.

(Edited by Zinhle Nkosi)