Assessing the economic role of small urban centre developments on the surrounding rural communities: a case study of Turton in uMzumbe municipality.
Dlamini, Bonginkosi Churchill.
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The economic role of small urban centres and their relationship with their rural hinterlands, which include movement of people, exchange of goods, capital and other social factors, play an essential role in the processes of both rural and urban change in every country. As a result, major spatial and demographic fluctuations have been characteristic for South Africa from the second half of the 20th century through to the 21st century, due to a dynamic process of primary urbanisation marked by intense migration trends taking place between rural areas and towns and cities. This study gives special attention to the economic role and prospects for small urban centres (concentrated areas with a population of 50,000 and below) in South African. It is interesting to look at the economic role of small urban centres as they are the first stage of the agglomeration of urban activities and therefore are supposed to have a profound influence on the spatial and socio-economic development prospects for the surrounding rural areas. With optimism to achieve a balanced economic growth and development between urban and rural areas, town planners and associated development practitioners have continued to be inspired by small urban centres while also admiring their potential economic role on the surrounding rural communities and contribution on the Local Economic Development (LED). The study assessed the economic role of Turton on surrounding communities of uMzumbe in comparison with the potential economic role of small urban centres on their rural surroundings as suggested by the by litteriture. To this end the study assessed whether the failure of Turton to bring about the apired economic gains to the surrounding rural communities was a result of poor planning interventions from the municipality, poor or lack of community participation and involvement or structural failure emanating from government’s unclear programmes and policies for small urban centres in rural municipalities. Qualitative information on the economic role of Turton on the surrounding communities was acquired using semi-structured interviews conducted with key informers involved in the development of Turton in uMzumbe Municipality. The information collected from the interviews was analysed by means of thematic analysis. After the analysis, it was discovered that the difficulties experienced by Turton in playing in potential economic role as a small urban centre on surrounding communities was a reflection of power struggles and unclear roles and responsibilities in the system of dual governance rather than integrated development for the rural poor. Therefore, the research concluded that small urban centres within rural municipalities would continue to struggle to achieve desirable objectives of rural development unless a new approach was adopted that regularised the functioning of the dual governance. A syntactic policy is needed to enhance the economic role of small urban centre development that will give effect to a synthetic model for the implementation that sufficiently integrates the theories of this research. This aims to achieve a solution merging small urban centre development plans with the rural development within the rural municipalities versus the dual- governance.