Document: Guidelines for the Revitalisation of Rural Towns and Regions in South Africa
The study of the revitalisation of small rural towns and rural areas in South Africa is primarily aimed at providing guidelines to inform the state of our rural towns and rural areas, their growth challenges and the potential range of planned interventions to revitalise them. Documents for ‘The Study of the Revitalisation of Rural Towns and Regions in South Africa’ and ‘Guidelines for the Revitalisation of Rural Towns and Regions in South Africa’ have been separated for ease of use, but are inherently related and are suggested to be read in sequence. Herein contains ‘Guidelines for the Revitalisation of Rural Towns and Regions in South Africa.’
The situation in rural South Africa is complex and in a state of decay. The present government, mainly through the efforts of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and other institutions, seeks ways and means to improve the country’s rural areas.
On the journey to come to terms with how one might address the situation, this study starts with outlines of the background, problem statement and the scope and methodology. Next the conceptual underpinnings of rural town and regional rejuvenation, is followed respectively by the examination of international best practice and South Africa’s own experimentation with its rural areas and rural towns in the Apartheid era and in the period of the democratic dispensation. The outcome of the research clearly indicates that the rural development challenges South Africa faces are not unique, but are rather part of an intractable global phenomenon that many governments and citizens of both Developing and Developed nations have to confront and deal with.
There are lessons of successes and failures from the study of other nations’ experiences as well as those of South Africa itself. What comes out clearly from the selective studies of the USA, Canada and the European Union, (as the Developed countries) and China, Russia, Mexico and India, (as Developing countries) is that there are no quick solutions or “magic bullets” that address rural revitalisation. Whilst South Africa’s planning superstructure is reasonably sophisticated in its structures, regulations, processes and programmed implementation, like other countries, the results aimed for are slow to be realised and often do not materialise at all. The growing service delivery crises and protests epitomises this predicament in which South Africa presently finds itself. What is learnt from other countries and from South Africa itself is that what is essential is ideological clarity, the placing of sound structures and processes by the State, the willingness of stakeholders to work together to uplift themselves, being open to thinking out of the box and long term planning.
The guidelines proposed herein can be conceptualised as a focus on transforming rural places, rather than the blanket application of policies and approaches in rural development. The guidelines consist of a cluster of 21 matrixes’ that address the range of challenges that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform identified.
The guidelines are a set of questions that are generated from the findings from other countries’ and South Africa’s experience. What the guidelines uncover is the variety of enquiries that would enhance current rural planning.