Business dynamics in Klerksdorp and its influence on the spatial landscape 1995-2008
Jeeva, Zaakirah Iqbal
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In 2004, President Thabo Mbeki’s state-of-the-nation address openly acknowledged the reality of South Africa’s dualistic economy, which comprises a formal sector that participates in the global economy and an informal sector that provides an income to the unemployed. However, the study of urbanisation is often separated from social change and economic development, seen merely as a spin-off and not as a product of these socio-economic forces. Hence, this study seeks to explore the impact that the dualistic economic forces has had on the spatial landscape. Firstly, this study explores the business dynamics of the formal business sector in Klerksdorp and the influence it has had on the spatial landscape over a period of fourteen years. Secondly, it investigates the character, composition and location of the informal business sector in Klerksdorp. In the final instance, it looks at the relationship between these two economic sectors and how that relationship has influenced the spatial-economic landscape. Spatial data collected was plotted by means of Geographic Information System (GIS), while economic results were collected by means of a survey. In addition, the spatial economic results were verified by means of semi-structured interviews conducted throughout the city. The study revealed that the location and composition of businesses within Klerksdorp have, indeed, transformed. Where previously the formal high-order businesses were found to be located within the Central Business District, in recent years, these businesses have decentralised to the northern suburbs and have been replaced by lower-order formal and informal businesses in the very same district. This business transformation has, in turn, revealed that an aversive business relationship between the formal and informal sector does, in fact, exist, which has had a large impact on the city’s spatial landscape, resulting in it being transformed from a mono-nodal urban form to a multi-nodal urban structure. This trend of business decentralisation, as found in Klerksdorp, is contradictory to the ideals of many government policies that seek to compact and integrate the urban landscape. With this in mind, this study seeks to explain how each of these forces – spatial, economic and political – directly influences the spatial form of a city.