||Patrick Bond discusses DeSutcliffisation at DUT, 24 April
The URF@DUT seminar series will be running its forth seminar next week. This is our third seminar. The past two seminars have been incredibly well supported and have been spaces of lively debate and deliberation. We have a full schedule of seminars for the rest of the year.
Please join us in our next seminar which is also likely to stimulate robust discussion and new ways of thinking about city governance and the shifting identities of residents of low income housing estates in Durban. The next seminar is likely to be very controversial, leading to high levels of debate and even disagreement. The Urban Futures Centre sees part of its role as providing a space for free thinking and imagining, and for shifting in paradigms of thinking and practice.
Date: 24th April (Thursday)
Time: 12:00 – 13:30
Venue: ESBE Boardroom, L3, S4, S Block
Topic: DeSutcliffe-ising Durban: how is the new team doing?
Presenter: Prof. Patrick Bond
UFS Puts Sutcliffe’s Reign Under The Spotlight
The third Urban Futures Centre (UFS) seminar took place at the University’s (DUT) ESBE Boardroom, L3, S4, S Block, where Patrick Bond, Professor and Director of the Centre for Civil Society at UKZN, spoke about the contribution of former city manager; Mike Sutcliffe to the city of Durban.
DUT students, lecturers, academics from UKZN, municipal officials and other stakeholders attended the presentation. Sutcliffe managed the city from 2002 to 2012, and according to Prof Bond, his (Sutcliffe) contribution (to the city of Durban) was destructive from the standpoint of the poor and working-class people’s interests.
Prof Bond said the process of renaming the streets of Durban; which was highly controversial, blue flag beaches and environmental protests, alleged human rights abuses, transport debacle, environmental destruction, white elephant stadium and Warwick Junction saga all formed part and parcel of Sutcliffe’s road to the so-called destruction of the city.
He said the biggest issue contested by the people of Durban, to date, is the $25 billon South Durban’s port-petrochemical complex. “This is a site-specific project but one with more general lessons for grassroots contestation of industrial mal-development, in part because so many issue areas are up for contestation. There are lessons to be learned both by those who ‘govern’ Durban, and local civil society organisations which need to be taken account of to ensure that the ‘DeSuttcliffe-ising’ process takes place. Local residents’ organisations - united as the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) - also offer multiple overlapping critiques of this project,” he said.
He added that this project will put more than 2000 more trucks per hour on our roads, cause a housing crisis as unbearable living conditions will displace communities and increase social decay and crime and convert the Clairwood Racecourse into a container and trucking depot.
“This project will also deny fishermen access to the beachfront and piers and increase petrochemical industry pollution-related illnesses such as cancer and asthma. It will also force small businesses to close, worsen climate change, create more corruption and put a further burden on taxpayers in addition to existing white elephants. We looking at a difficult terrain in South Africa when we have the highest interest rates behind Greece, putting a huge strain on local businesses,” said Prof Bond. He currently urges public participation on the issue of the Port and Petrochemical expansions, adding that these projects will negatively affect those residents in South Durban and is a long-standing problem which has become acute.
Prof Bond is one of UKZN’s most prolific researchers. He teaches political economy and eco-social policy, directs the Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. His research focuses on economic justice, geopolitics, climate, energy and water. In service to the new South African government, Patrick authored and edited more than a dozen policy papers from 1994 - 2002, including the Reconstruction and Development Programme and the RDP White Paper. He is also an author and editor of Politics of Climate Justice and Durban’s Climate Gamble as well as a political economist.
About the Presentation
From 2002-11, a reign of what might be called municipal 'neoliberal nationalism' included both large-scale and small-scale visionary changes to Durban. Unlike prior episodes in city-making such as Haussmann's 19th century Paris or Moses' 20th century New York, however, during the first decade in 21st century Durban, City Manager Mike Sutcliffe's contribution was frivolous - but no less destructive from the standpoint of poor and working-class people's interests, the metro's spatial coherence and racial segregration, and the natural environment. Since early 2012, what progress has been made in overturning the most irrational and counterproductive of Sutcliffe's efforts? Which changes came from above as City Manager Sbu Sithole wrestles with inherited contradictions, and which from below via the durable opposition of the city's myriad civil society organisations? Do these activists necessarily face the same repressive tendencies unleashed during Sutcliffe's era (e.g. the Cato Manor hit squad, fatal internecine rivalries in the ANC and IFP/NFP parties, periodic assassinations of community leaders, and the more recent incitement to murder the main Cato Crest land-invasion activist by the mayor and provincial health MEC)? And will neo-Sutcliffite politics continue to be reproduced where it counts - in renewed public-private-pilfering contracts for the likes of the Mpisanes and Jay Singh - or do recent court appearances and anti-corruption/tenderpreneurship rhetoric together signal opportunities to shake out Durban's crony-capitalist tendencies? Bond uses Gramsci's optimism of the will and pessimism of the intellect to 'tell a good story' about Durban, one in which de-Sutcliffisation speeds up in coming months and years.
About the presenter
Prof. Patrick Bond is a political economist with longstanding research interests and NGO work in urban communities and with global justice movements in several countries. He teaches political economy and eco-social policy, directs the Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwZulu-Natal. His research focuses on economic justice, geopolitics, climate, energy and water. In service to the new South African government, Patrick authored/edited more than a dozen policy papers from 1994-2002, including the Reconstruction and Development Programme and the RDP White Paper, and he taught at the University of the Witwatersrand Graduate School of Public and Development Management from 1997-2004. He has been a visiting Professor at numerous universities across the world and regularly contributes to debate columns in the popular press.
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