Today was a big day in the city council, where an internal meeting was taking place in order to develop the city’s sustainability strategy. The objectives that were discussed and announced as priorities were, on the short term, to focus on the city’s water, sanitation and waste problem in order to improve city life; and on the long term, to foment knowledge exchange between citizens in order to empower them to change their city for the better.
In the meantime, the municipality of Temeke was working on the key points of their infrastructure strategy focused on improving citizens’ ability to work and quality of life through the promotion of school and hospital construction. Faced with a lack of legal capacity to do this, the municipality decided to conduct a census and community mapping with informal residents of their municipality, in order to write a report emphasizing the real size of the population in the district (as opposed to that in the official census), highlighting the recent population growth and using it as leverage to urge the government to develop more public infrastructure.
The national government listened to these concerns and promoted their own transport plan, which focuses on improving the transport infrastructure as a way to improve citizens’ mobility, and especially low income citizens; as well as an opportunity for jobs to be created.
To a certain extent, all levels of government were aware of the main threats to their project as being citizens’ discontent. The city council explained that one of the threats to their sanitation project was the need to deal with the high density of informal settlements, which could mean necessary evictions in order to make room for public infrastructure such as water wells and community toilets. This resonated with the municipal government.
Discontents of citizens with evictions appeared particularly crucial when municipality employees returned from giving an eviction notice to Kurasini residents. This emphasized the necessity of eviction in some development projects, and the conflict this may lead to. Government actors thus understood the need to avoid social discontent as well as the need to manage communication with the media in such an occurrence.
All levels of government were acutely aware as the dual role of the media as both a threat and an opportunity, and rushed through their meeting in order to make time to go and see the media, in particular journalists and PR specialists.