The government must intervene radically in the ownership of land around South African cities to ensure optimum economic growth, the country’s top mayors were told during a course at the weekend.
Enrique Peñalosa, the former mayor of the Colombian capital, Bogotá, said the quality of urban life was the most important determinant of modern economic growth and that the leaders of South African cities should decide what kind of cities they wanted.
While land and then capital were initially regarded as the most important factors in economic growth, now it was people, Peñalosa told the mayors and their management teams. “How do you ensure that the best South Africans stay in South Africa and don’t go to London or New York? By making it attractive.”
Peñalosa and his successor are credited by many with turning one of the world’s most violent and corrupt capitals into a peaceful and vibrant city in less than 10 years.
Peñalosa spoke at a unique course called “Leadership in local government: building globally competitive cities”.
Executive mayors in attendance during the first two days of the course at the weekend included Zukiswa Ncitha of Buffalo City, Patricia de Lille of Cape Town, Mondli Gungubele of Ekurhuleni, Parks Tau of Johannesburg; Zanoxolo Wayile of Nelson Mandela Bay and Kgosientso Ramokgopa of Tshwane.