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The urban challenge in Africa: Growth and management of its large cities
Edited by Carole Rakodi - United Nations University Press - TOKYO - NEW YORK - PARIS - © The United Nations University, 1997
Keith S. O. Beavon
En 1886, la découverte de l'or déclenche la naissance de Johannesbourg et du complexe industriel environnant, la région du Witwatersrand. Dès 1895, la population de Johannesbourg dépasse celle du Cap et dans les années 20 elle devient la plus grande ville de l'Afrique subsaharienne. Aujourd'hui, Johannesbourg forme avec Prétoria au nord et le complexe industriel de Vereeniging au sud le cœur de la région du PWV. Le rôle prééminent de l'or n'a guère duré au-delà de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, les mines s'épuisant. La guerre avait favorisé les manufactures développées au service des mines mais dès les années 90 elles perdent de l'importance tandis que le nombre d'emplois croît régulièrement dans les services. Quoique les sanctions se traduisent dans les années 80 par un début de chômage, la croissance des services financiers et d'affaires destinés au marché local se maintient. Au début, les travailleurs migrants sont logés dans l'enceinte des mines, dans les habitations pour domestiques des quartiers résidentiels et des zones isolées à l'ouest du centre ville. Au fur et à mesure que la population noire augmente, elle se regroupe dans des bidonvilles d'arrière-cour, des faubourgs à l'ouest de la ville, des banlieues établies par les pouvoirs publics au sud-ouest à proximité desquelles s'établissent, dès les années 40, des zones de squatters. Dans le même temps, le secteur privé multiplie les constructions pour loger les riches classes moyennes anglophones au nord du centre ville et un nombre grandissant de travailleurs blancs dans les autres faubourgs. Lorsque le Parti National arrive au pouvoir en 1948 avec sa politique d'apartheid un programme massif de construction au sud-ouest - Soweto - s'accompagne d'une accélération des évictions des noirs chassés des zones "blanches" de Johannesburg et de leurs anciens quartiers. Vers le milieu des années 70, un million à un million et demi de personnes habitent les cités dortoirs du sud-ouest. La mauvaise qualité des logements, l'insuffisance des infrastructures et des services, la pénurie d'appareils sociaux et l'interdiction de toute une gamme d'activités commerciales se traduisent par un milieu appauvri et malsain. Le maintien de la discrimination réduit à néant les maigres réformes qui suivent la révolte de Soweto en 1976. Le peu de ressources dont disposent les autorités locales issues de la ségrégation leur interdit d'améliorer les services, ce qui s'ajoute aux conflits politiques pour décourager tout investissement commercial. Suite à la détérioration croissante de la situation, des mouvements associatifs locaux se mettent en place et organisent le boycott des loyers et autres paiements de service, ce qui handicape plus encore les autorités locales noires. Les cabanes de fortune et autres installations de squatters se multiplient. Ce n'est qu'en 1990, un accord étant passé avec les autorités locales provisoires annulant les arriérés de loyers, que les boycotts s'arrêtent, les tarifs des charges locales sont révisés et les réformes commencent. Les nouvelles autorités locales vont devoir se charger d'une région où l'économie est stagnante depuis une dizaine d'année et qui se caractérise par une ségrégation et des inégalités criantes entre les races en termes d'espaces et de revenus. Il va falloir restructurer le tissu urbain, la base financière et le cadre institutionnel en même temps qu'il faudra surmonter d'autres problèmes, y compris l'insuffisance de services dépassés et le terrible manque de logements.
Given the long period during which South Africa was isolated from much of the world because of the country's apartheid policy, the city of Johannesburg was probably no more than a name to many people. Indeed it could be argued that, apart from knowing that it has an association with gold, Soweto, and periodic bouts of violence, few would recognize it if they were to see it unexpectedly! By way of illustration consider the following: suppose people from a developed country, who had never been to South Africa before, were to fly unknowingly to Johannesburg on one of the 53 international airlines that now land at its airport. Suppose that the visitors were then transported in an instant to the interior of one of the city's five-star hotels and thereafter to one of the suburban shopping malls, and asked to identify where they were. Almost certainly they would believe they were in some European, North American, or Austral-asian city. In effect, the concrete, chrome, and glass structures of Johannesburg, and the volume and variety of branded foods, clothes, sports goods, compact discs, as well as consumer durables in its upmarket malls are indistinguishable from those in most world cities. A carefully structured tour of the city could reinforce the perception of the visitors that they might be in any one of many large cities of the world. They could travel for hours and see no obvious signs of mining activity, they would see large, sophisticated, essentially clean-air industrial estates powered by electricity and a variety of comfortable and even luxurious housing. The skyline of the central business district (CBD) from a distance, with many tall buildings reaching up to compete with the 50-storey Carlton Centre, might well conjure up an image of Dallas. If, however, the tour inadvertently strayed to the south-western side of the agglomeration then the visitors would be immediately struck by the massive contrast between the townscape they had been observing and that of the sprawling residential townships occupied exclusively by Black people.1 Because of the exposure on international television, the visitors should instantly recognize the "matchbox" houses as being part of Soweto and only then would they deduce that the adjacent "town" had to be Johannesburg.
The emphasis in this volume is on understanding the nature, present status, and future prospects of the largest cities of Africa. Given this objective, and the contention set out in the opening paragraph, it seems appropriate to set the scene by sketching some of the parameters that both define and characterize the modern, well-developed aspects of the city and its region. Thereafter attention will briefly shift to a consideration of other essential aspects of Johannesburg. In particular, and by way of some stark contrasts, it will be shown that the current urban crisis centres on redressing the legacy of the past whereby the indigenous population was consciously marginalized through a process of creating ghettos within the fabric of what was conceived to be a whites-only town. The chapter will conclude with a consideration of current thinking on how a new system of interim local authorities, finalized only in August 1995, might attempt to address the accumulated inequalities in the metropolis. Given restrictions of space, emphasis has been placed on circumstances and situations that embrace the Black and white populations of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Area, but similar themes have affected the Coloured and Indian populations (see, inter alia, Lupton, 1992, 1993a,b, on Coloured areas; and Carrim, 1990; Randall, 1973, on the Indian areas).
Setting the scene: From open veld to metropolitan giant
The real reason for Johannesburg's location and origin began 3,000 million years ago when fortuitous geological events created the Witwatersrand Basin and resulted in the world's richest deposits of gold (McCarthy, 1986). Preserved under a cap of lava and then exposed as a result of uplift and erosion (Moon and Dardis, 1988), the gold was still in place when humans with the necessary technical skills stumbled on it in the nineteenth century. Even then the mining and urbanization that followed could have been cut short, because iron sulphide in the ore body prevented separation of the gold. Only the timely discovery of a process that solved the separation problem for ore from the deeper levels where the bulk of the real wealth lay (Gray and McLachlan, 1933) ensured that Johannesburg would become a permanent feature on the highveld of the Transvaal (Richardson and Van-Helten, 1980; van Onselen, 1982a).
A little over a century ago, in early 1886, the site of Johannesburg was no more than an unwanted south-sloping remnant of ground lying between three highveld farms (Gray and Gray, 1940). There was little to commend the property for agricultural purposes, and it offered precious little prospect as a suitable place for a village, let alone a great city that would inexplicably be named Johannesburg (see, inter alia, Shorten, 1970, pp. 84-87; Smith, 1971, pp. 246-248; Hirschson, 1974; Appelgryn, 1984, pp. 21-30). Yet, within a mere 40 years of being founded on such an unlikely site, Johannesburg was being hailed as a "world city" (MacDonald, 1926) and was the largest and most powerful financial and commercial city in Africa south of the equator. By the time of its golden jubilee celebrations in 1936, Johannesburg had a population of 475,000 (Shorten, 1970, p. 365).
Gold not only provided the spark that ignited the development of Johannesburg, it also precipitated the growth of a string of towns along the east-west line of the gold-reef. Today they are all part of an urban industrial region known as the Witwatersrand (figs. 5.1 and 5.2). Some 60 km to the north was Pretoria, the capital of the Transvaal Republic, and a similar distance to the south, on the banks of the Vaal River, was the district where the settlement of Vereeniging would grow as the service centre for an industrial complex (composed of Vereeniging, Vanderbijlpark, and Sasolburg) to be known as the Vaal Triangle. As such the future Johannesburg was to find itself at the centre of a region of urban places known colloquially by the initials of its major focal points as the PWV (figs. 5.1 and 5.2). In addition, Johannesburg would be at the centre both of the Witwatersrand and of what is today the core region of the country lying in the south of the richest province of the "New" South Africa (initially, expediently, and confusingly dubbed the PWV but, since December 1994, officially named Gauteng - a northern Sotho colloquialism meaning "place of gold" or, in the present context, the Province of Gold).
Fig. 5.1 Johannesburg in its regional setting (Source: based on Beavon, 1992a)
Fig. 5.2 The functional area of the PWV and Gauteng province (Source: based on Development Bank of Southern Africa, South Africa's Nine Provinces. A Human Development Profile,DBSA, Midrand, 1994)
To underscore the significance of the PWV region (in Gauteng province) it should be noted that whereas in 1990 the PWV (albeit somewhat loosely defined, see fig. 5.2) comprised only 2.5 per cent of the area of South Africa it contained between 23 and 25 per cent, or some 8.8 million, of the population. With 93 per cent of the PWV population in effect classified as urban, it is not surprising to find that the region also has approximately one-third of all the formal employment of the country. The PWV is responsible for between 43 and 40 per cent of the gross domestic product of South Africa (Urban Foundation, 1990; Department of Regional and Land Affairs, 1992; Hall et al., 1993, p. 1). It is anticipated that, by the year 2020, Johannesburg, the central but separate municipality of the metropolitan area (fig. 5.2), will be the fulcrum of a region containing an estimated 20 million people (Urban Foundation, 1990; Solomon, 1992). It is also useful to note here that initially Johannesburg, and later the Witwatersrand, have always been a focus for foreign workers, many of them actively recruited. Countries represented included China (with 63,695 mine workers between 1904 and 1907; Richardson, 1982) but the bulk of the labourers came from Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Lesotho (Crush et al., 1991). In 1972 foreign labour was at its highest, when it constituted three-quarters of the then 350,000 miners (although a significant proportion would have been employed in the goldfields of the Orange Free State) (Moodie, 1994). At the time of writing, claims in the local press assert that there are between 3 and 12 million foreign (and largely illegal immigrant) Black people resident in South Africa, of whom probably more than 60 per cent are resident, working, or seeking employment in the PWV. The figure now generally accepted as valid is one of 8.5 million illegal residents (CDE, 1995; van Niekerk, 1995).
In 1895, nine years after it was established, Johannesburg had a population of 80,000 and had surpassed Cape Town, which had been South Africa's primate urban place for the previous 243 years (The Star, 1987, pp. 7, 26). Johannesburg's position as the country's largest town, later a city, and now a commonly used tag for a metropolitan area in a metropolitan region, has never since been challenged. The definition of Johannesburg for population purposes has, however, become more all-embracing. In everyday parlance, the name Johannesburg is used of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Area, or Greater Johannesburg roughly demarcated by the circular freeway system of the N1, N2, and N3 (fig. 5.1), whereas the City of Johannesburg refers to the old municipal area shown as Johannesburg in figure 5.2. The latter had a population in 1991 somewhat in excess of 2.2 million, whereas the core of the Witwatersrand had a total population of at least 4.3 million (Central Statistical Services, 1992; cf. table 5.1). Not surprisingly, because of its sizeable population, and not least because it has been the financial capital of the South African region for more than 100 years, Johannesburg has long been a general service centre not only for the Transvaal but for much of the South African and even the southern African interior.
Table 5.1 Population of the Witwatersrand and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Area, 1970-1990
a. Various estimates exist of the city's population. The 1991 census count given in the text (Central Statistical Services, 1992) is considered to be an underestimate, and the figures here may be more realistic.
Johannesburg's rise to regional pre-eminence began with the discovery of gold in 1886. Notwithstanding the early dominance of gold mining in the economy of Johannesburg and the central Witwatersrand, the pre-eminent role of the industry as a producer of earnings and as an employer of labour did not last much beyond World War II. In 1945 the Witwatersrand was producing 96 per cent of South Africa's gold (at a time when the country in turn was the source of about 40 per cent of the world total) and the mines of the Central Rand (lying largely in the Johannesburg metropolitan boundaries) were responsible for 34 per cent (Scott, 1951). By 1980 the contribution to national production from Johannesburg's mines had fallen dramatically to 3 per cent (Fair and Muller, 1981). As gold dropped out of the local and regional economy, owing in part to the fact that the economically viable ores had largely been worked out, and in part to the fact that new highly productive mines had opened on the Far West Rand (Randfontein and Westonaria; see fig. 5.2) and in the Orange Free State, the place of gold mining on the central Witwatersrand was taken by a variety of secondary industries. They in turn were accompanied by an expansion of tertiary services.
Both of those sectors, which had been closely associated with mining from the outset, had enjoyed a considerable boost in their fortunes during World War II when manufacturing industry in South Africa, particularly in Johannesburg, boomed, as the country manufactured materiel for the Allied war effort. Even so, in 1951 just over 1 in 3 members of the Witwatersrand labour force were still employed by the mining industry. That ratio had, however, dropped to 1 in 11 by 1970 and is even less at the present time. By contrast the labour force employed in secondary industry, located in what is now termed the Johannesburg Metropolitan Area, increased from 130,000 to 230,000, while employment in the services sector rose from just over 272,000 to 422,000 in the 20 years from 1951 to 1970 (table 5.2). The loss of some 200,000 mining jobs on the Witwatersrand as a whole over the same period was more than offset by an increase of 475,000 jobs in the secondary and tertiary sectors (of which 60 per cent were in the Johannesburg Metropolitan Area). Whereas the two decades from 1950 clearly marked the change from a primary industrial phase into a fully fledged secondary industrial phase, the same period was also marked by a considerable surge in services (Fair, 1977; Fair and Muller, 1981), which increasingly were located, or had office space, in the Johannesburg CBD.
By the 1990s actual mining activity had to all intents and purposes become insignificant in the regional economy of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Area. Manufacturing, although important in absolute terms, had dropped to a mere 18 per cent of the metropolis's gross geographic product (GOP) (Mabin and Hunter, 1993, pp. 87-88), largely as a result of centrifugal forces that pushed it over the borders of the metropolitan periphery and further afield in search of lower costs. By contrast, the trade and catering sector contributed 20 per cent of the local GGP, and the finance and business services sector made up nearly 30 per cent. Transport and communications and the general government sector each contributed 10 per cent to the GGP. Between 1980 and 1991, a period believed by some to be the one in which international sanctions against the apartheid state were biting hardest on the Witwatersrand, the Johannesburg Metropolitan Area saw a decrease in its overall formal employment of about 3.5 per cent(Mabin and Hunter, 1993, p. 71). Yet the financial and business component of the tertiary sector, although almost exclusively focused on servicing the local region and South Africa, continued to expand. There was a 30.7 per cent increase in its employment, translating into an additional 24,000 jobs (Mabin and Hunter, 1993, p. 71). The net result was that by 1991 approximately 7 out of 10 people employed in the formal sector of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Area were engaged in tertiary services (table 5.3). Notwithstanding the figures just cited, it is still extremely difficult (in 1995) to assess the true effects of the sanctions, disinvestments, and divestments that took place particularly in the 1980s. The task of detailing the effects on the country as a whole, let alone on regions within it, remains to be tackled, by searching through not only the plethora of published material (see, inter alia, Kalley, 1988; Schoeman, 1988; Orkin, 1989; Sarakinsky, 1989) but also the as yet hidden (but hopefully extant) state documents.
Table 5.2 Employment by sector in the Johannesburg Metropolitan Area and the rest of the Witwatersrand, 1951-1970
Table 5.3 Employment by sector in the Johannesburg Metropolitan Area, 19801991
The single most important indicator of the dominance of Johannesburg's service activities is reflected in the 5.9 million m² of good-quality office space found in the CBD of the city, in its suburban centres, and in its nearest municipal neighbours. In national terms that amounts to just over 1 million m² more office space, of the same quality, than occurs in the combined office buildings of the country's three other major metropolitan areas of Durban (pop. 2.2 million), Cape Town (pop. 2 million), and Pretoria (pop. 1.03 million) (Central Statistical Services, 1992; Amprops, 1994).
Up to 1970 the concentration of offices, reflecting the location of Johannesburg's tertiary services, was in the CBD. The pattern began to change noticeably from the mid-1970s onwards, as office clusters in the expanding northern suburbs and neighbouring municipalities competed for tenants. Even so, in 1993 the Johannesburg CBD alone still contained 2.7 million m² of the top three grades of offices. That figure amounts to 56.6 per cent of the total comparable office space in the other three metropolitan regions (i.e. not just in their CBDs) put together (Amprops, 1994).
The financial importance of the city is also reflected by the fact that it is the home of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), the only one in South Africa. It is ranked 12th in the world on the basis of its market capitalization. The JSE is also several orders of magnitude larger than any other stock exchange in Africa (Katz, 1994, pp. 431432; see chap. 3). As an indicator of foreign capital flows into South Africa via Johannesburg's financial institutions, it can be noted that JSE trading by foreign investors, on the basis of turnover and arbitrage, was 29.4 per cent in 1993 (Katz, 1994, p. 335). Reflecting the importance of Johannesburg as the location for major headquarters buildings is the fact that 75 per cent of the 615 firms currently listed on the JSE are located in the PWV, of which 66 per cent are in the Johannesburg Metropolitan Area (based on data extracted from Maher, 1994).
From the data given in the preceding paragraphs it should come as no surprise that the Johannesburg CBD contributes 12 per cent of South Africa's GNP. The Johannesburg Metropolitan Area consumes 9,097 GWh of electricity per annum, which is a mere 6.7 per cent of the national consumption but 5.8 per cent of the total installed (not necessarily productive) capacity of the rest of Africa (and about equal to the total annual electricity sales in Zambia or Zimbabwe) (Eskom, 1993).
Notwithstanding the glitzy wonders of Johannesburg that make it so significant an urban place in Africa, there is also a less attractive, deprived, and deeply disturbing side that remained "hidden" from many of Johannesburg's white citizens, at least until 1976. Adjacent to this, the most opulent city south of the Sahara, there are hundreds of thousands of people living in deprived communities or townships. In addition, there are tens of thousands living in informal settlements of shacks recently erected in the veldt And despite the fact that Johannesburg lies at the centre of South Africa's industrial heartland, it also lies at the centre of a region that has stagnated, and in absolute terms has actually lost ground during the endgame of the apartheid era. Political settlement in South Africa, and the advent of a government that reflects the majority of the people, has rapidly brought the plight of deprived communities to the daily attention of South Africans. The process of transformation in general, and in the province of Gauteng in particular, will depend on the successful reintegration of the formerly segregated urban components through the reallocation of resources under what is termed the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) of the new government. Specific issues that emerge from the troubled past include the provision of adequate, albeit basic, municipal services such as water supply, sewerage, and garbage removal; overcoming the housing backlog; and promoting the development of commercial infrastructure and improved, affordable, and safe mass transport systems. It is towards a consideration of some of the points made above and to providing an essential historical backdrop that attention now turns.
Racial separation, segregation, and apartheid
The origins of Soweto
Although today Soweto is the best known of the black residential areas in and around Greater Johannesburg, the bulk of its "suburbs" have a much shorter history than Johannesburg itself. Fully to understand the current reconstruction motives and designs for the future, it is important to understand the manner in which black people were segregated from white residents for over a hundred years. Some background on the repeated attempts to create and maintain segregation prior to the apartheid years is also needed to explain why so many black people were concentrated in the western part of Johannesburg before the Group Areas Act was introduced in 1950. Thereafter Black people would be forced to live in the south-western townships that were then collectively known as Vukazenzele (Hansard, 1953, colt 222) - a name that means "get-up-and-do-it-yourself" (Beavon and Rogerson, 1990, p. 283). Some of the essential background is provided below.
In what follows, the plight of Black labourers in the mines, who were increasingly tightly controlled and contained in compounds on the mining properties (Moroney, 1978, 1982), is not considered. Black domestic servants employed and residing in white suburban properties (see van Onselen, 1982b) are also excluded from consideration in this chapter. The focus is mainly on the Black people who were employed in the town itself and its industries. They, together with other so-called "non-white" people, were initially crowded into three small ghettos, later termed "locations," which the white officials of the emerging settlement permitted on the then periphery of the rather insalubrious western side of town from 1887 onwards. All three enclaves were known officially by derogatory racial tags (Beavon, 1982): the "Coolie Location" was for Indians who had, in the main, come via indentured labour in Natal to work and do business in the town; the "Kafir Location" was for Black people (fig. 5.3); and the "Malay Location" was set aside for Cape Coloured people, many of whom had arrived in Johannesburg as labourers in the employ of Afrikaner wagoneers.
The general site of Soweto-to-be (see fig. 5.1) was unwittingly selected in 1904 when Black people were forcibly evicted, along with Indians, from the "Coolie Location," an area that the council wanted to redevelop and integrate with the adjacent central business area (fig. 5.3) (Wentzel, 1903). The forced removals followed a 1904 outbreak of bubonic plague in the "Coolie Location" (Maud, 1938, pp. 70, 134-135). At the time, the emerging city was under the administrative control of the British (following the Boer War) and the municipal area proclaimed by them in 1903 was supposedly the largest in the world. Yet when the evictions took place the only "suitable" site that could "be found" for the Black people was a place called Klipspruit (see fig. 5.4), 19 km by road and 15 km as the crow flies to the southwest beyond the municipal boundary (Maud, 1938; Lewis, 1966). Although permits were later issued to allow some Black workers to reside temporarily closer to their places of work in central Johannesburg, no positive accommodation policy for Black people was formulated by the council (Maud, 1938; Parnell, 1991, 1993). On the contrary, slum living conditions in shacks erected in the backyards of residential, commercial, and industrial properties became the lot of tens of thousands of Black workers and their families (see, inter alia, Hellman, 1935; Dikobe, 1973; Koch, 1983; Parnell, 1993).
Eventually armed with clauses contained in the infamous Natives (Urban Areas) Act of 1923, the City Council began to evict slum dwellers with the intention of accommodating them in a number of segregated peripheral townships called locations. For a variety of reasons detailed elsewhere (inter alia, Kane-Berman, 1978; Morris, 1980, 1981; Beavon, 1982), not least the reluctance of white taxpayers to contribute towards the municipal costs of such an exercise, those attempts were less than successful, even after the council monopolized the brewing and sale of traditional African beer in order to generate increased revenues it could use for housing Black people (Proctor, 1979; Rogerson, 1986). Instead, Black people began to congregate in increasing numbers in three suburbs of Johannesburg, which had been eschewed by white people because, when laid out in 1902, they were adjacent to the municipal rubbish tip (Lewsen, 1953). The suburbs were Sophiatown, Martindale, and Newclare and were collectively known, together with Western Native Township (created as a "native location" on the levelled rubbish tip in 1918), as the Western Areas (SAIRR, 1953; fig. 5.3). In the suburbs of the Western Areas (excluding the "location"), Black people were entitled, through a legal quirk, to own property on a freehold basis, something denied them elsewhere by the fundamental concept built into the Natives (Urban Areas) Act, namely that Black people "should only be permitted within municipal areas insofar and for so long as their presence is demanded by the wants of the White population" (as quoted in Kane-Berman, 1978, p. 71). The Urban Areas Act was predicated on the notion that Black people would be sojourners, or temporary residents, in the urban areas (Horrell, 1978; Davenport, 1991). It was supposed that at some time in the future the Black people would be removed to the "native reserves" (later known as Bantustans and Homelands) when their services were no longer needed in the white areas.
Fig. 5.3 The positions of early key suburbs and black "locations" in Johannesburg
Fig. 5.4 The growth of Soweto (Source: based on Morris, 1980)
The rapid industrialization that followed South Africa's departure from the gold standard in December 1932 (Proctor, 1979), and which was given a boost by the demand for manufactured goods to assist the Allied war effort after 1939, saw increasing demands for "cheap" Black labour that aggravated the accommodation crisis. Pushed by the central government, the City Council set up the second of the south-western townships as late as 1938 and named it Orlando (see fig. 5.4) (Morris, 1980, 1981). However, it was largely shunned by Black people, who preferred to live in the crowded inner-city slums and the vibrant Western Areas (Huddleston, 1956; Hart and Pirie, 1984) (often simply but incorrectly referred to as Sophiatown), rather than be subject to the strict regulations that governed life in the distant "locations" (Parnell, 1993). During World War II, in addition to migrants from the Transvaal, large numbers of Black people from Natal and the Orange Free State unexpectedly flocked to e'Goli (a popular word used by Black miners for the City of Gold). It appears that they had been attracted to the city by false rumours that the Johannesburg municipality was giving Black migrants pieces of ground on which to build their own homes. The resultant surge of Black people, soon referred to as squatters, settled "like birds in the cornfields" (Stadler, 1979) in the vicinity of Orlando. Later the squatter sites would be individually named Jabavu and Moroka (fig. 5.4) and would form parts of Soweto, so named in the 1960s after the acronym for the south-western townships (Pirie, 1984a). Overall it is estimated that the Black population of Johannesburg increased from a nominal 229,000 to almost 385,000 between 1939 and 1946 (Stadler, 1979).
By way of a contrast, some indication of what was happening in the white residential parts of Johannesburg is necessary. From as early as 1887 there was a distinction between what can be called the eastern and western suburbs of Johannesburg. The foreigners, or uitlanders, who formed the white majority in Johannesburg, had caused what they perceived as the "undesirable" people, namely the "non-whites" and the unskilled Afrikaners (Fourie, 1978), to be concentrated in the suburbs west of what was a white slum called Vrededorp (fig. 5.3). That action soon had a marked influence on the gross social geography of white Johannesburg as it appeared by the early 1900s (Beavon, forthcoming). Even before the Boer War the English-speaking community, from the very rich to the relatively poor, was concentrated to the east of the business district (Maud, 1938; Smith, 1971; van Onselen, 1982b). Furthermore, by 1892 the "Randlords" had begun to relocate from their south-facing view-sites of the eastern suburbs and were soon building north-facing mansions on properties that were as large as 80,000 m² atop the Parktown Ridge (fig. 5.3), and its east and west extensions, to the north of the town (Benjamin, 1972). That development did much to make the area north of the ridge attractive to others of the comfortable classes, who aspired to join the ranks of the rich but on properties of between 1,000 and 4,000 m² (fig. 5.3). And so the die was cast for residential class separation amongst the English-speaking Johannesburgers, with the more affluent opting for the central northern sector of the expanding town. To the south of the mining land, the area known as the Southern Suburbs became the home of a variety of white groups, including non-English speakers. With relatively high densities it had a distinct mining and working-class character (Smith, 1971; van Onselen 1982a,b).
Whereas there was no serious attempt to provide housing for Black people prior to 1938, there was no shortage of housing for white middle-class people and the rich. For example, when economic boom followed the departure from the gold standard and created massive overcrowding in Black accommodation, there was an immediate building boom in accommodation for whites. Some 10,400 private residential flats for white people were constructed on the northern edge of the CBD alone (City Engineer, 1967; van der Waal, 1987).
When the National Party, with its policy of apartheid, formed the government in 1948, it was determined to see the south-western townships grow. To that end there was a massive building programme that accompanied the growing number of evictions and removals of Black people from white Johannesburg. Forced removals also took place from the Western Areas, after they were declared white group areas, and their Black residents were transferred to Meadowlands (fig. 5.4). For the first time there was a significant closing of the gap between the stock of available 44 m² "matchbox" houses (Morris, 1980: 143) and the increasing number of Black people in Johannesburg (fig. 5.5), as well as substantial site-and-service schemes (Morris, 1980, 1981). Whereas the preceding statement might give an impression of benevolence on the side of the state, that would be misleading. Rentals were charged for the sites and built accommodation, and defaulters were evicted. In 1957 the Natives (Urban Areas) Act and other repressive Acts that related to Blacks in urban areas were grouped together in the Natives (Urban Areas) Consolidation Act, which was then amended from time to time (Horrell, 1978). In terms of the provisions of this Act and its forerunner, the income-earning opportunities for self-employed Black people in the "townships" between 1923 and 1976 were severely restricted. There were only seven categories of self-employed businesses they could engage in, namely, general dealerships, "native" eating-houses, restaurants, milkshops, butcheries, greengrocers, and hawking, and then only in the townships. The numbers of businesses that would be allowed in each township were, in any event, controlled and very limited (Beavon, 1989, p. 24). Furthermore, occupation of a house in Soweto would in future be possible only if the occupier had worked continuously for one employer for 10 years. If the occupier took a job in another town, say somewhere on the Witwatersrand other than in Johannesburg, then their residence rights in Soweto could be placed in jeopardy (Hlope, 1977, p. 347; Horrell, 1978, p. 174). As such, the townships of Soweto grew by accretions and additions (see fig. 5.4), on the assumption not only that they would be temporary but also that they would be little more than crude dormitories for labour.
Fig. 5.5 The Black population of Johannesburg and local authority housing provision, 1910-1980 (Source: based on Morris, 1980)
By the mid-1970s, when a generation of children who had been born and raised under apartheid lived in the south-western townships, the total population was estimated to be between 1 and 1.5 million (Morris, 1980, p. 35), about twice the white population of municipal Johannesburg. Occupancy of a typical "matchbox" house was put in the range of 7 (Shuenyane et al., 1977) to 14 (Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce Survey cited in Morris, 1980, p. 43) and increasingly relatives, friends, and lodgers were being accommodated in backyard shacks not dissimilar from those of the earlier slumyards. The townships of Soweto soon belied the claim by National Party politicians that apartheid was a policy of "separate but equal." Townships created after 1950 were zoned so that occupation was by specific ethnic (tribal) groups, in accordance with the apartheid ideology of divide and rule (Mashile and Pirie, 1977; Pirie, 1984b). In addition, houses in those areas were assigned seriatim and so friendship ties and income, if not class differences, typical even in working-class white areas were not catered for. The dearth of permitted self-employment opportunities and restrictive licensing meant that there was a corresponding dearth of shops and services within the townships. Consequently "illegal" or pirate dairies and butcheries operated in houses to the detriment of public health, and there were large numbers of hawkers offering foodstuffs for sale, particularly in the vicinity of transportation stopping points and termini (Beavon and Rogerson, 1990). There were only two hotels and two cinemas (Morris, 1980, p. 242). Roads were unpaved and public open space was covered by coarse veld grass if it was covered at all. There was virtually no reticulation of electric power and only 20 per cent of houses were linked to the supply system by 1976 (Morris, 1980, p.101). Residents, therefore, not only were forced to shop in the white city but of necessity had to burn wood and coal for heating and cooking purposes. As a result, in the early mornings and evenings the whole area would be covered in thick acrid smoke. The inhospitable environment, together with poverty, and aggravated by unemployment, was reflected in the infant mortality rates, which by 1976 were 54.29 per 1,000 confinements compared with a rate of 18.09 for whites (City Health Department, 1973). Rates of malnutrition and tuberculosis were also high in Soweto. Wages were low and on average only one-third of those earned by whites (Bureau of Market Research, 1977). In addition, restricted income-earning opportunities made ownership of a motor car almost impossible. Whereas car ownership amongst whites was 1.32 vehicles per family, amongst Sowetans it was 0.2 (Bureau of Market Research, 1976). The result was that virtually all the working adults were dependent upon the slow, unreliable public transport system that had insufficient capacity to get them punctually to their places of work in what was now officially a white city.
With the all too visible and increasing differences between the comfortable and affluent lifestyles of white Johannesburg and black Soweto, and increasing resolve by organized black political groups to get rid of apartheid, it is surprising that the Soweto revolt of 1976 did not occur earlier. The uprising could have been ignited by any one of a number of privations and measures such as those cited above. When it came, the spark of revolt was dissatisfaction with Afrikaans-medium teaching in some of the schools: the first wave of confrontation in the streets on 16 June 1976 was led by schoolchildren and the first mortal casualty was Hector Petersen, a 13-year-old schoolboy (Kane-Berman, 1978).
After the 1976 revolt
Although the Soweto revolt was followed by similar upheavals in many parts of the country, prompting the government to declare a general state of emergency, those matters fall outside the focus of this chapter. What is important to note is that the uprising severely jolted the government and prodded it into a programme of urban reform, based on freedom of movement for urban workers without impairing their residence rights, as would have been the case before. Just prior to the events of 16 June 1976, the state, in response to demands from Black leaders that their people should be free to do business in the Black townships, had lifted restrictions on the variety of self-employment activities open to Blacks from 7 to a paltry 26. Following the uprising, and in an attempt to make reformist concessions while attempting to demonstrate its resolve that it would not capitulate to Black demands in general, the state increased the categories of self-employment allowed in the townships to 65, but then, realizing that such petty restrictions were pointless, it removed all of them by the end of 1977 (Beavon, 1989, 1992a). Theoretically, Black residential areas could now have the same range of businesses and services as occurred in the white suburban shopping centres and downtown. That said, however, the 44 years of severe limitations inevitably meant that Black entrepreneurs had been considerably disadvantaged in terms of developing businesses and business practices. Thus the dearth of business facilities in the townships could not be overcome overnight. Significantly, however, reform in the realm of the taxi industry was to see the extremely limited number of licensed taxis (in the form of mini-buses) rise to 1.4 per 1,000 people by 1980, and to 3.5 in 1990, resulting in more than 7,000 legal taxis operating in the township (Khosa, 1992).
More noteworthy amongst the reforms was the acceptance that Blacks residing in the urban areas of South Africa would henceforth be there legally and permanently (Hart, 1990). In the case of Soweto, plans were made to step up electrification of the suburb and improve the services. Yet at the same time the state tightened up its influx controls (Hindson, 1987) and attempted to accelerate its Bantustan programme of development by a carrot and stick approach. The proverbial carrot took the form of huge amounts of capital poured into those puppet states (Morris, 1981), in order to create jobs and provide houses in an attempt to entice Black people away from the metropoles. At the same time, the state applied the stick by cutting down on, and eventually withdrawing entirely from, the provision of funds for building houses for Black people in the urban areas. The net effect in Soweto (as in other townships) was a fall-off in housing provision and an escalation of the shortage (fig. 5.5). Alternative housing provided by the private sector proved both expensive and later problematical in terms of delivery (Hendler, 1988). In 1983 the government announced its intention to sell a large percentage of its rental stock of "matchbox" houses in Black areas to the residents. The so-called Big Sale was promoted on the basis of ownership and secure tenure (Mabin and Parnell, 1983). A year later, at the end of 1984, it was clear the sale had been a failure. The potential buyers were inter alia, suspicious of the state's intentions, they found that loan (or mortgage bond) repayments would be higher than the rents they were already paying, they believed that their many years of "rent" payments should be discounted against the purchase price, and they had serious doubts regarding the potential future resale of township houses given the low mobility amongst township residents (Hardie and Hart, 1986).
The point that emerges from this sketch of national events is that, despite recognizing Black residents in Soweto as permanent residents of Greater Johannesburg, and despite the removal of income-earning restrictions, the fact was that very little changed. People continued to live in rented "matchboxes," and the upgrading of essential municipal services (let alone education, health, etc.) proceeded very slowly. When garbage heaped up and sewers became blocked they were not attended to as a matter of urgency. Roads remained unpaved and unlit, while public transportation was inadequate in capacity, unreliable, and expensive, so the frustrations of the populace continued to rise. Part of the ineptitude of the local authorities (originally the Johannesburg municipality, then in the 1970s the central government, and later a Black, but puppet, local authority) responsible for services in Soweto was that the township had no hope of developing a genuine tax base unless it was integrated with one of the white municipalities. Because of racial controls on investment in Black areas and the long-running restrictions on Black income-earning opportunities, there were no industries and precious little in the way of formal retail premises in the township. Certainly there were no shopping malls of the kind that popped up like mushrooms in the northern (white) suburbs from the mid-1970s onwards. There were no office parks and the rental houses were state owned. In short, there was no substantial profit-making or appreciating property base for assessment of rates to feed local authority finances. Furthermore, when political unrest broke out anew in 1985, followed once again by the proclamation of a national state of emergency (which included detention without trial, suspension of a variety of civil rights, and other draconian powers), popular protest moved up a gear and entered the arena of civil disobedience as new "civic" leaders and popular organizations of resistance emerged.
In the early 1980s the apartheid regime had attempted to gain credibility for its "separate but equal" charade by establishing Black local authorities (or BLAB) in metropolitan "locations" or "townships." Whereas the state found members of the Black population who were prepared to collaborate in the sham, popular leaders with grass-roots support were soon pushed to the forefront of opposition to the BLAB. The fact that BLAs had "inherited" economically impoverished municipal realms, devoid of retail and service businesses and industry because of apartheid regulations, meant that they were unable to provide municipal services that might have "bribed" the "electorate" into accepting their legitimacy. Instead the lack of service provision by the BLAs encouraged popular opposition. Local social movements accountable to the community emerged and were dubbed "civics." Within a short space of time there was at least one civic organization per township or per subdivision in the large townships. The leadership of the civics was overwhelmingly but not exclusively male. By contrast, the block and street committees that were the real engine-rooms of opposition to the apartheid state were fired and run mainly by women. Although born to resist the apartheid state, civics also found themselves forced to find solutions to the problems of poor municipal services, the public housing shortage, and the lack of land. They therefore linked together and joined forces with other opposition groups in the black community to find ways of dismantling apartheid. As the civics, they would later be prepared to engage in forums of discussion and planning that lay outside the formal apparatus of state administration (see below) (Coovadia, 1991; Shubane, 1991; Development and Democracy, 1994).
Inhabitants of the Black townships increasingly heeded the call of community or civic leaders and popular parties to refrain from paying rents, and any other form of taxes, to the "illegal" and repressive apparatuses of the state (Hendler, 1991). Consequently boycott of rents and payments for water, electricity, and cleansing services escalated (Swilling et al., 1991). The net results were a continued downward spiral in the level of service provision and a deteriorating living environment, which in turn prompted others to join the boycotts. These were designed to make the townships ungovernable and thereby to pressurize the National Party government to resign and transfer power to the people. Dissatisfaction, mistrust, and questions of the legitimacy of both Black (puppet) and white local authorities saw a breakdown in formal civic negotiations to the extent that a new "people-based" set of negotiating chambers and forums were established to serve as a "free" meeting place for ideas on the future. Just as an extra-parliamentary forum had been set up to negotiate an interim constitution for the country, as a precursor to holding a democratic election and the formation of a government of national unity, so a body called the Central Witwatersrand Metropolitan Chamber (hereafter, the Chamber) served a similar purpose at the local government level for the Johannesburg Metropolitan Area.