The Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) was constructed as a ‘new deal’ for
South African cities and towns. It outlines a vision with four overarching goals and eight
priorities or policy levers meant to overcome the apartheid legacy through comprehensive
spatial restructuring and strategic urban–rural linkages. This article is a contextual theological
reflection ‘from below’, reading the IUDF through the lenses of five distinct contours. It asks
whether the IUDF has the potential to mediate good cities in which the urban poor and
disenfranchised can experience integral liberation as equal citizens, or whether it will
perpetuate the city as post-colonial satellite of violent empire. It concludes by proposing five
areas for theological and political action: consciousness from below, a new economics, a
different kind of politics, socio-spatial transformation, and collaborative knowledge generation.
This article forms part of the special collection on ‘Engaging development: Contributions to a critical theological and religious
debate’ in HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies Volume 72, Issue 4, 2016.