Mthobisi Masinga, a young forward-thinking town and regional planner from Pretoria, has been invited to present his innovative research on rural land development to a high-level international city planning congress in the US. He is currently seeking sponsorship to represent South Africa at the event.
Masinga, a junior town and regional planner with Pretoria-based firm KENA Consult, will represent South Africa at the International Society for City and Regional Planners’ Annual Congress in Portland, Oregon, in October 2017. He has been invited to present a study on rural land use management and regulatory guidelines for South Africa.
The study comes after his work in 2016 for the Limpopo province’s Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Policy/Bill and Regulations, with its principal aim of creating a partnership between traditional leadership in the province and local and municipal government spatial planning management.
Work on the project included a collaboration between the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the House of Traditional Leaders, and the Limpopo Office of the Premier.
Masinga says the project constructively addresses the often sensitive nature of land reform, adding that “the project’s theme is to give power back to the people through activate citizenry participation, [and] the rights to the city movement and advocacy.” While the research gathered from Masinga’s work on the project can be easily applied to other regions in South Africa and the rest of the continent, it also has potential applications around the world, such as South America and Asia.
Hence, his invitation to present his findings at the forthcoming international congress.
Masinga is currently seeking private and industry sponsorship for the trip, hoping to be an ambassador for the South African spatial planning sector and boost the country’s international reputation for out-of-the-box thinking in the field of urban development and rural land reform.
Masinga considers himself at heart an educator and anthropologist, researching and collaborating on innovative solutions to modern challenges through looking at the lessons learnt from history. He hopes that through networking at the congress event he may be able to bring more international collaborators on-board for future projects in South Africa.
Basing his work in the principles of progression, reinvention and persistence, Masinga considers it his professional duty as an African, to help transform societal spaces into habitable places of tomorrow with equality for all through resources, economic development, services, and amenities.
“At the current juncture in South Africa’s history, town and regional planning is a key profession in the rectification of the spatial and other imbalances in both urban and rural areas, as well as the improvement of inefficient and underperforming living environments,” Masinga says.
“The challenge of planning lies in the fact that different interests and expectations for the future are often contradictory and conflict-ridden. A professional approach that combines sensitivity, analytical and strategic skills is hence required to handle the various political, social, spatial, environmental and economic issues at stake.”
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