n African Journal of Rhetoric - The Rhetoric of Transformation and sustainable development in African cities in the era of change : the case of Durban, South Africa

Volume 8 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1998-2054


Spatial policies and interventions that focus on promoting sustainable city development from the end of the 20th century in South Africa have been informed by two main underlying imperatives. There has been an urgent need to positively transform the apartheid legacy of socio-economic spatial disequilibrium along racial lines in cities. The intensification of economic global linkages and integration in the era of globalization has also meant that the spatial structure of cities has to be responsive to new rules of competitiveness in the era of economic change regardless of the localized need for political transformation. These spatial imperatives for South African cities in the era of social, political and economic transformation are articulated in various government policy documents which agitate for the integration and transformation of city spaces to promote sustainable development. This paper empirically evaluates the socio-economic spatial imprint of this policy discourse in South Africa, using the case study of Durban. Based on various strategic architectural and urban design projects, the paper argues that the policy discourse of sustainable city transformation is nothing but mere rhetoric, as it is not being successfully articulated in architectural, urban design and housing spatial interventions. Transformation for sustainable development in strategic urban design and architectural spatial intervention projects is still at cross-roads, as socio-economic integration is being relegated to the background by market forces of free enterprise and class relations. The paper recommends a way forward to address the policy claims in respect of sustainable development.

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