Towards deliberative democracy through the democratic governance and design of public spaces in the South African capital city, Tshwane

11 Sep 2020

Many political, economic and social transformations have occurred in South Africa since the first democratic elections in 1994. The country has made significant efforts in trying to establish and rebrand its cities as multiracial and multicultural hubs with democratic public spaces. In an ideal city, public space represents and embodies the ideology of deliberate democracy as postulated by Habermas. However, attempts in South Africa to re(design) public spaces also reflect instances of alienation, conflict and anxiety. This article focusses on the governance and design of public space in the capital of South Africa, the City of Tshwane. The analysis highlights the challenges encapsulated in the governance and design of different types of spaces towards enabling opportunities for deliberate democracy in Tshwane. The paper argues that to address these challenges, urban designers and local authority officials need to focus on both the process and product of urban design, through an emphasis on Spatial Democracy; to readdress governance practices, and Democratic Space; to redirect design practices, both of which have a significant impact on the use, misuse and lack of use of public space.