Introducing The Service Delivery And Citizen Participation Conundrum In Khayelitsha

1773 words - 7 pages

This study presents an assessment of connections between service delivery – water services in particular – and participatory strategies adopted by different communities. This study was thought-out within a context of heightened militancy in local government as exemplified by the widespread and so called service delivery protests in 2005-2006. A large body of literature (e.g. Benit-Gbaffou 2008a, 2008b, Piper and Nadvi 2010, Tapscott 2010, 2005, Ballard et al 2006, Miraftab 2006, and Zeurn 2001) already exists on the state-civil society nexus in the post apartheid era. A majority of these studies point to the failure of the institutionalised participatory system of governance such as ward committees and integrated development planning. Such failures of the mainstream participatory channels have inevitably set in motion the shifts towards unconventional methods such as protests and court action, which have been relatively more successful in attracting an audience and making voices heard.

Protest itself though is not a novel phenomenon in South Africa, as protest formed a key component of the anti-apartheid struggle. Yet there is a crucial distinction. In the colonial and apartheid eras, black peoples’ participation in governance was circumscribed through a host of laws directed at alienating their South African citizenship. This teeming obsession with and desire to subjugate the African to a permanent underclass in all their existence outside the homeland did not dissuade the black Africans from migrating into ‘white’ urban South Africa. Migration in search of job opportunities mainly in urban areas and mining compounds was a means of diversifying livelihood from the unproductive subsistence economy. Earlier on, the colonial authority had managed to subdue agricultural surpluses in rural areas to a level just high enough maintain the reproduction of migrant workers, Wolpe (1995) argues, just to keep a steady flow of labour into mines and urban centres.

One of the most paradoxical elements of the colonial and apartheid systems was the simultaneous necessity for, and desire by the state to restrict the flow of Africans into the urban centres. While destroying African had achieved the former, attempts at achieving the latter were through influx control laws and through limiting the construction of housing stock for Africans. This resulted in the slums growing both within and at the edges of urban centres as African increasingly saw migrant work as the key source of livelihood. It is fair to argue that the envisaged restrictions failed, notwithstanding the often callous measures adopted by successive governments to deal with the informal settlements such as demolitions, prosecution and evictions all which failed the rural-urban migration.

Cape Town, was in all probability the site of the most determined influx control measures epitomised by the...


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