Governing the GCR series: Institutionalising the Gauteng City-Region

The Gauteng City-Region (GCR) is an uncertain concept, but diminishingly so; it is increasingly recognised in official and other discourse. Nonetheless, this growing acknowledgement of a city-region lying roughly from "somewhere north of Pretoria to the Vaal River (and sometimes beyond); and from east of Springs to west of Krugersdorp" (Mabin, 2013, p. 4) has not resulted in a settled consensus of what this means, or should mean, for the purposes of planning, public investment, or governance.

At its most basic, the concept of 'city-region' arises from the observation that the formal boundaries of a city seldom correspond to what we might otherwise conceive of as the 'city'. Municipal boundaries are useful for delineating the area of responsibility of this government or that (to a point) and as a result are useful for predicting the observable products of that responsibility: water pipes, garbage-collection routes, and so on. But they are much less useful for describing the very many non-government phenomena that also constitute a city, including flows of people, natural resources and raw materials, and goods and services; spatial patterns of development; and economic activity.

This Provocation is the first in a series on the topic of "governing the Gauteng City-Region". The piece introduces a number of considerations entailed in the governance of this city-region, and discusses the prospect of institutionalising that governance. Talk of institutionalisation originated recently within the Gauteng Provincial Government as a solution to various complexities of governance. This paper traces the development of the idea of institutionalising the city-region from its origin to its current state; it surveys the institutions that are currently, between them, responsible for GCR governance; and it explores the complexities of dividing powers and functions across a multi-layered, multi-dimensional field of governing institutions and their territories of operation.


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