A critical review of the housing policy and the State's intervention in mining towns in South Africa

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Since 2012, there has been increasing government interest in mining towns. This interest was occasioned by the Marikana shooting. This interest, led by the presidency through Inter-ministerial Committee on the Revitalisation of Distressed Mining Towns and Communities has had impact on human settlements. This dissertation provides an overview of the Mining Towns Programme and its evolution, identify some of the major pitfalls and assumptions of the programme, and propose an alternative. It also provides and reflects a sustained critique of the approach of the state in the creation of human settlements and the provision of housing in mining towns. Furthermore, the dissertation attempts to assess the efficacy of human settlements approach to mining towns. In doing this, I argue that despite the increased interest, the approach adopted has fundamental weaknesses. These weaknesses range from the fundamental departure from the original intention and focus of the programme, the over-reliance on the existing but inappropriate human settlements delivery instruments and the ignorance of and the weakened role of local government in the programme. In its reliance on the existing human settlements delivery instruments, the implementation and delivery of houses has not addressed the problems faced by mineworkers. Moreover, the state has also overlooked the deep historical challenges of mining towns, both in terms of context and practice and this has undermined the effective implementation of the programme. There are also other institutional and socioeconomic problems associated with mining towns and this has not been properly assessed. The dissertation critically evaluates the approach and the shortcomings of the Mining Towns Programme against these challenges and posits some alternatives.