Development and resistance: the lessons for the planners of Phola Park

This paper examines the complex developmental issues raised by the proposal for ‘integrated development’ at Phola Park, a large informal settlement on the East Rand, from 1990 to 1992. At the time, Phola Park was seen as a testing ground for agencies keen to unlock funds to meet the challenge of South Africa’s growing informal settlement population. The proposal was put together through a carefully planned process of community consultation. Community organization was empowered through financial assistance and technical backup. What could simply have been a physical upgrading proposal was extended to ensure that the development would result in social self-sufficiency and increased economic independence for the community. However, the process failed. This paper argues that this failure lay in an inadequate conceptualization of development within the highly volatile political context surrounding Phola Park and its complex internal social and economic dynamics. It is further argued that an ambitious model of development, which presupposed a stable and cohesive community, was imposed upon a situation which was volatile, violent and unstable. In addition, negotiations with apartheid institutions – local and provincial authorities, parastatals and security forces – protracted implementation and exacerbated tensions within the community. Bibliogr., notes.

Title: Development and resistance: the lessons for the planners of Phola Park
Author: Bremner, Lindsay
Year: 1994
Periodical: Urban Forum
Volume: 5
Issue: 1
Pages: 23-44
Language: English
Geographic term: South Africa
External link: http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/BF03036590.pdf
Abstract: This paper examines the complex developmental issues raised by the proposal for ‘integrated development’ at Phola Park, a large informal settlement on the East Rand, from 1990 to 1992. At the time, Phola Park was seen as a testing ground for agencies keen to unlock funds to meet the challenge of South Africa’s growing informal settlement population. The proposal was put together through a carefully planned process of community consultation. Community organization was empowered through financial assistance and technical backup. What could simply have been a physical upgrading proposal was extended to ensure that the development would result in social self-sufficiency and increased economic independence for the community. However, the process failed. This paper argues that this failure lay in an inadequate conceptualization of development within the highly volatile political context surrounding Phola Park and its complex internal social and economic dynamics. It is further argued that an ambitious model of development, which presupposed a stable and cohesive community, was imposed upon a situation which was volatile, violent and unstable. In addition, negotiations with apartheid institutions – local and provincial authorities, parastatals and security forces – protracted implementation and exacerbated tensions within the community. Bibliogr., notes.