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Gauteng province is the political and economic heart of South Africa and one of the largest conurbations on the continent. While it is the smallest province of South Africa, only 1.5% of the national land area, it is the most urbanized. Gauteng province contains about a fourth of the national population and a third of the national GDP (STATSSA, 2012). Together with government center Tshwane (Pretoria), Ekurhuleni, Sedibeng and West Rand, Johannesburg forms a polycentric and dispersed metropolis and is regarded as the financial center of Africa. For decades, Gauteng has been a magnet for migrants who seek economic opportunities and a better quality of life. Between 1996 and 2011, the population grew by 33% (STATSSA, 2012).

Gauteng Province – Johannesburg (ZA)

Most of Gauteng is on the ‘Highveld’, a grassland area around 1500 meters above sea level. Between Johannesburg and Pretoria there are low parallel ridges and undulating hills, some part of the Magalies­berg Mountains and the Witwatersrand. The north of the province is more subtropical, due to its lower altitude and is mostly dry savanna. At the province border lays the Vaal River. Rural and peri-urban areas within Gauteng are highly transformed and cultivated. Most of the landscape is private owned extensive farmland, golf courses or part of schools, residences or other (semi-)private compounds (Gauteng City-Region Observatory – GCRO, 2013). Currently, the main challenges of Gauteng are to include the informal parts of both economy and settlements, to accommodate strong demographic growth, to deal with the spatial legacy of its mining history, and to counter social inequality and segregation which still remains after the only recently abolished apartheid planning system.

Pretoria FLICKR


Countryside FLICKR


Wildpark FLICKR


Carlton Centre Gauteng FLICKR



FOUNDING STORY After a long occupation by indigenous tribes, Gauteng’s colonial history revolved mainly around mining. Settlers from the Dutch-British Cape Colony arrived in the region around the year 1800. ‘Gauta’ in Sotho means gold. The discovery of gold in 1886 at a farm in Witwatersrand, south of the young capital Pretoria (1855), gave rise to a gold rush. Ten years later the site was a busy town of 100,000 inhabitants called Johannesburg, and was, at the time, the largest gold extraction site on earth. Pretoria played a crucial role in the 2nd Anglo-Boer Freedom War, which the local Boer community lost to the British in 1902. Three years later near Pretoria, the Cullinan diamond, the largest diamond in the world, was found. In the next decades the mining industry grew and Johannesburg developed around the central west-east mining belt (Ahmad, 2010), which remains a large and central spatial entity in contemporary Gauteng. In 1910 The Union of South Africa was founded as a dominion of the British Empire. It was governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, with the British monarch represented by a governor-general. Johannesburg began to establish itself as a financial and business center from the 1920s onward. The Union came to an end in 1961, when the constitution was enacted and the country became the sovereign Republic of South Africa. The administration of the new republic remained in Pretoria, while parliament would be seated in Cape Town. Recently, President Zuma (2016) questioned this solution of two capitals, as members of the executive need two cars and two houses – one in Cape Town and one in Pretoria – and travel between the two cities. Only in 1994 was the province named Gauteng, following its separation from the former province Transvaal. EMERGING METROPOLITAN LANDSCAPE Between 1948 and 1994, the National Party’s apartheid policy served as the overall paradigm during the development of Gauteng. Besides the wellknown socio-economic and political consequences, apartheid also left a spatial legacy in Gauteng. The highly segregating urbanization strategy aimed to cleanse the white neighborhoods by creating black new towns. An example of such a black township is Soweto, deliberately planned south of the mining belt, downwind from the ‘tailings’ or large dumps of mine dust. After Mandela was released from prison in 1990 and elected in 1994, apartheid formally came to an end, yet the scars of the system are still visible in the metropolitan landscape 20 years later. Poor black settlements continue to face contamination (uranium, acids etc.) from the mining sites, unemployment, and limited access to services, transport, education and recreation. South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies in the world, a stark reality that is particularly evident in Gauteng cities and towns (GCRO, 2015). Despite this and the financial crisis of 1997, Johannesburg and Gauteng continue to attract visitors and new inhabitants. In the first decade of the 21st century, the population of Johannesburg alone increased by more than one million. In the meantime, the mining

BOEK Blind Spot - metropolitan landscape in the global battle for talent (4/2016, Deltametropolis)  

Publication in English, webpage in Dutch: De publicatie Blind Spot bekijkt de relatie tussen kwalitei...

BOEK Blind Spot - metropolitan landscape in the global battle for talent (4/2016, Deltametropolis)  

Publication in English, webpage in Dutch: De publicatie Blind Spot bekijkt de relatie tussen kwalitei...