News | Opinion
Dr Fumene George Tsibani
In his State of the Nation Address on 13 February 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a need for smart cities, therefore setting the tone for debate around the future of our heritage sites.
As it is always said, the future will not make sense without reflecting on the past, for the past determines thefuture.
The need for co-nurturing and co-creating of local space for driving inclusive economic transformation, manufacturing and re-industrialisation between 2022 and 2063 was succinctly expressed by Boulding (1966) when he argued:
“There is a great deal of historical evidence to suggest that a society which loses its identity with posterity, and which loses its positive image of the future, loses also its capacity to deal with present problems and soon falls apart.”
South African sites, towns and cities are especially in the “Home of Legends” of Eastern, Northern and Western Cape provinces.
These were architecturally designed as military forts during the wars of land dispossessions.
Undoubtedly, the arrival of colonialists in SA in 1460 reflects the period of exploration and discovery that came to be known as the European Renaissance – the founding moment of capitalist modernity, dual economic model, and its hallmarks of abject poverty, unemployment and increased inequalities.
Simultaneously, it was the start of the destruction of many African city civilizations throughout the continent,starting with the Cape provinces and KwaZulu-Natal in SA.
The protracted struggles waged between Africans and Western monarchies was endured for centuries in various heritage sites in SA.
As a consequence of the monarchies’ defeat of Khoisan groups and AmaXhosa by 1887, all the sites, landscapes and natural resources were renamed to reflect the monarchies.
So, Ramaphosa’s announcement on smart cities was informed by the rich heritage sites, towns and cities which are institutionally structured under 257 municipalities variously touched by this history.
These 257 municipalities have heritage sites to restore pride through wealth creation.
Realising the devastating impact of colonial legacy, SA has a complex structural and infrastructure gap whichrequire entrepreneurs, ideapreneurs and leaders to implement smart cities using water, energy, agriculture,land, technology and health nexuses in order to implement integrated rural and urban infrastructure investmentprogrammes.
Designing smart cities must be informed by a nation-building plan, envisaged for between 2022 and 2063, as a social innovation to proactively respond to the global pandemic and our poor economic performance.
The post-Covid and post-global depression economic recovery plan must infuse our beautiful landscapes and heritage resources to address the projected demands for restoration of production, re-industrialisation, innovation, domestication through manufacturing, and enterprise development.
Using African architectural designs rooted in our rich global heritage and culture will lead to efficiency, economic viability and effectiveness of programmes characterised by energy-efficient, thereby being able to instil environmental changes creatively.
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The new smart cities must be designed and constructed based on three key economic drivers: productivity, inclusivity and resilience in democratic South Africa.
Using the built, operate, train and transfer model, SA will have an economy that is more dynamic, competitive and sustainable, where innovation and productivity lead to better jobs with high wages, and where entry for rural and township SMMEs.
A presidential directive should be central in directing manufacturing and reindustrialisation under a political settlement which prioritises long-term investment in productive capacity and rewards effort and creativity rather than incumbency.
This approach is guaranteed to honour our hard-earned democracy and fallen sons and daughters of our beloved country.
Dr Tsibani is a cultural and heritage expert and author of Nation Building Plan between 2020 and 2064: Designing Paradise Cities