An examination of factors threatening the function of small towns in an attempt to assess their future potential : the case of the footwear sector in Pietermaritzburg.
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Some urban centres in KwaZulu -Natal are threatened with loss of function due to economic restructuring. Many studies argue that the problem of declining centres can be mediated by programmes of Local Economic Development. However it. is important to note that economic restructuring is a complex process that needs an understanding of broader economic processes as most of the problems are created by global forces that are outside the control of localities. The research aims to investigate the factors that underpin t he threat of function in an attempt to establish whether centres have a future potential. Directly linked to this is the level of awareness and readiness of development institutions to these changes, as this is important if they are going to make appropriate and strategic responses. Using the case of the manufacturing sector in Pietermaritzburg a twofold approach to the study was adopted. The f irst part examines the impact of restructuring on localities. vthis is used as a framework to interpret the threatened status of the ' manufacturing sector in Pietermaritzburg. The conclusion reached is that the footwear sector is threatened by global competition. The second part of the dissertation attempts to investigate how Pitermaritzburg-Msunduzi Transitional Local Council is responding to the challenge posed by economic restructuring. In this regard it is concluded that Pietermaritzburg's ability to respond appropriately is hampered by the problems within the local government.