Local Government

The response below was prepared by Wynand Dreyer PrEng, on behalf of the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation, to the process initiated in September 2020, by the Transformation and Spatial Planning Unit of the City of Johannesburg, towards the review and update of the Spatial Development Framework 2040 (SDF).  The commentary deals with best practice and the requirements that legislation imposes on authorities, including the responsibility of the City to compile an inventory of its heritage resources, talks to practical steps required to give effect to the SDF and

The South African Constitution of 1996 introduced new forms of local government and radically changed the map of governance structures throughout the country. As has been the case since 1910, the central and provincial governments play a controlling role. However, at a local level – towns, cities and even townships and suburbs – remain arenas in which citizens are empowered to make their voices heard directly, as happens almost daily with street protests about inadequate service delivery.

From the mid-1940s, the Witwatersrand East Rand and its gold mining and industries were the powerhouse of the South African economy (Bonner, 2000) and these industries drew in thousands of work seekers, fast-forwarding urbanisation in this region and creating a huge struggle for housing and transport. But very few of these hopeful migrants became rich, and many lived in dire poverty and squalor. There were massive systems of conflict.

In 1896 Johannesburg had reached its tenth birthday. The astounding growth of the town in its first decade meant that the authorities (at that stage It was the Johannesburg Gezondheids Comite or the Sanitary Board / Committee) wanted to know about the population of the town, its origins, location, composition, religions, local industries and occupations.

Prior to the 1994 elections, the National Party controlled both National Government and Provincial Government of the Transvaal. Planning of roads and townships were the responsibility of the Transvaal Provincial Administration (TPA).

Sandton was established as a town in its own right in 1969. It did not take long for residents to form ratepayers associations in most of the suburbs.

Ordinances of the Transvaal 1903, 1904 and Statutes of the Transvaal 1907. Whoever wants to look at old, dry, dusty, obsolete law books? Law books date, they take up space on shelves and laws are repealed. Legal language is precise and unemotional. The Transvaal ceased to exist in 1994 and today a completely different provincial government structure has replaced the pre 1994 arrangement of four all white driven apartheid provinces and the 10 bantustans.

This small handbook was literally a pocket filler. It was an annual Johannesburg City publication Vade-Mecum. The meaning of the word, Vade-Mecum, is the Latin expression "go with me". It is a small slender volume issued by the City Treasurer's Department and by 1949 was in its 19th edition. What a contrast to current glossy city reports and promotional books.

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