21. South Africa(s) After 20 Years of Democracy: The Old, The New and The Other(s)

E-mail of panel organisers: annika.teppo@nai.uu.se, henning.melber@dhf.uu.se, marianne.millstein@nai.uu.se

We invite submissions for critical analyses and reflections from a range of disciplines and perspectives related, but not limited to the following topics, themes and issues:

* Transformation of identities, voice and agency in civil and political society, reflecting issues such as the contested role of trade unions, the NGOification of civil society to the forces and implication of urban protests. 
* Changing formations of and spaces of citizenship.
* Between neo-liberalism and welfarism: State transformations and the myth and reality of the developmental state.
* Changing class relations and implications for South Africa’s economy and society, for instance through focus on working class and trade unions or the role of the middle class(es) as force for economic and political transformation.
* Race and ethnicity, as well as other cultural identities, including aspects of migration, immigration, and inter-ethnic or so-called race relations and xenophobia.
* Gender and sexuality, including sexual abuse of women and children and homophobia.
* Religion and spirituality.
* Youth and the role of the new generation then and now.
* The state of electoral democracy and questions around political representation, authority and legitimacy.


1. Black Female Entrepreneurs in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Achieving female economic empowerment in the formal and informal sectors.

Author: Aamira Chaney (Howard University, USA)


This research project focuses on the economic standing of black female entrepreneurs and black women overall in the post-apartheid South African economy within the formal and informal sectors. Analysis of black women’s contributions is done with the perspective of South African policy towards women’s economic empowerment.
Using qualitative methodology including interviews, questionnaires developed from interviews, content analysis of government programs, and their rate of success in regards to aiding in the empowerment of black women, the research investigates how greater distribution of resources will not only help to empower black women, but the South African economy overall, since black women constitute a major segment of the population. The research also examines the many socio-economic barriers that black women encounter in their struggle towards empowerment, including access to finance, household responsibilities, the rapidly increasing rate of HIV/AIDS, gender based violence and the significance and scholastic implications of it. All of these domestic issues greatly impact black female entrepreneurship.
In the prevailing feminist framework of South Africa, the dichotomous standpoint has been particularly detrimental to African women, because their perspectives and accounts have often been placed into the “other” category. This has removed black women’s most meaningful pursuits and socio-political interests. The research aims to correct this, and address South Africa’s internal issues encompassing government restructuring and transformation, questions of how to generate economic growth, stability and thwarting violence fueled by economic problems.
The results of the study found that black women working in both the formal and informal sectors were unhappy with the lack of economic transformation that has occurred in postapartheid South Africa. Poor education, the absence of training and transference of skills, and inadequacy of appointments to positions in various companies disappoints women. The scarcity of opportunities has resulted in black women being essentially “locked into” the informal sector in overwhelming numbers, where they receive significantly reduced income. Overall, black women have benefitted the least from South Africa’s economic policies, and their economic standing has remained unmoved post-apartheid.

2. Crafting and managing water service in a polarised city – the case of Johannesburg

Author: Darlington Mushongera (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa)


As protests over poor and inadequate service delivery escalate in South Africa, attention has turned on local municipalities and on their strategies of ensuring that people, particularly low-income households and previously disadvantaged communities, have access to improved basic services such as water. In the City of Johannesburg, it is intriguing to realise how a simple device such as a pre-paid water meter is emblematic of the discourse and trajectory of the socio-economic development of post-apartheid South Africa. Not only does the meter represent the contractual relationship existing between the city and its water company, but also spells out the shaky divide between the state and citizens and between neoliberal and developmental state discourses. The prepaid meter, in its regulatory function, is symbolic of the challenges, tensions and contradictions that the state faces and must overcome in order to reach out to needy sections of society. On the other hand, citizens’ displeasure towards the prepaid water meter underscores the critical role that they play in shaping not just public policy, but also service delivery options applicable to low-income households. This study aims to analyse how critical decisions on water service delivery have been made within a metropolitan municipality, with a keen focus on how key players in the decision-making process have articulated the challenges, debated and reconciled the tensions and contradictions inherent in meeting the objectives of water service delivery to low-income households – equity and efficiency. The key objective is to explain the adoption and implementation, by the City of Johannesburg, of the prepaid water metering system on certain households of Soweto high-density township, as a solution to the water service delivery challenges that faced the city in the post-apartheid period. Conclusions are drawn on how the state’s developmental agenda has or has not transformed over the last 20 years.


Author: Miemsie Steyn (University of Pretoria, South Africa)


Since 1994 a primary aim of educational reform in South Africa has been the broadening of access of previously disadvantaged and excluded students to and participation in institutions of higher education. Historically privileged White universities subsequently experienced a huge influx of mostly Black socio-economically deprived (SED) students, who may not always be prepared for the academic and cultural demands of these institutions, especially due to the legacies of ‘Bantu education’ during the apartheid era. This “underpreparedness” is evidenced in the low throughput rate which is currently experienced.  My research question was: How should SED students’ views on key factors in their learning be incorporated in a historically privileged South African university’s student support measures?    The theoretical framework was Chickering and Reisser’s (1993) model on student development in which they identified seven vectors which represent the main aspects of, as well as institutional influences on, student development.  In my field work a qualitative approach was followed in using   the “photo voice” method (Olivier, Wood & De Lange, 2009), combined with focus group discussions and narratives to collect the data. I combined our empirical data on the learning barriers and assets of SED students with the Chickering and Reisser (1993) model to develop a matrix for the advancement of SED students in South Africa’s historically privileged universities.

4. The State-Industrial Complex and the Swedish-South African Gripen Deal

Author: Wayne S. Coetzee (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)


No other event in South Africa’s recent history has generated such controversy as the 1999 Strategic Defence Procurement Package (more commonly known as ‘the arms deal). Although much ink has been spilled on the arms deal there are still considerable theoretical gaps. The Swedish Gripen component of the arms deal in particular has been under-researched and under-theorised, and it receives attention in this paper.

The aim of the paper is to generate new theoretical insights into the Gripen component of the arms deal by examining the state-industrial complex. Evidence suggests that states and arms-related industries are often two sides of the same coin in large-scale arms deals. Labour, however, is habitually excluded from this conventional view. This paper incorporates labour into the state-industrial complex by highlighting the concomitant role that metalworkers unions in both South Africa and Sweden played in the Gripen acquisition process. The paper therefore aims to differ from those accounts that separate labour and the private sector, and it asserts that such sharp distinctions cannot be made when production processes, actors, ideals and interests are interlinked and internationalised.

It is suggested that labour elites in South Africa and Sweden formed part of what is known as the transnational elite. By building on and expanding Robert W. Cox’s conceptualisation of the nébuleuse, it is argued that there is a ‘labour elite’, ‘industrial elite’ and ‘political elite’ that equally benefitted from the Gripen deal. The assumption is that these elites conceded to the structural determinants of the world economic and military system. Moreover, the analysis emphasises the concept of disaggregated elite cooperation and therefore challenges the notion that the policymaking elite must play to two monolithic audiences: its leftist popular constituency – who are linked to organised labour – and externally orientated domestic and international capital.

5. Gatvolkstaat en Ander Wit Lokasies: Afrikaans 'Shelters' and the Production of Autonomous Spatialities in Contemporary South Africa

Author: Vladislav Kruchinsky (Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia)


The paper examines new spatialities which are being produced in so-called ‘shelters’, or ‘missions’ – informal settlements populated primarily by poor Afrikaners and concentrated mainly in urban and peri-urban areas of Gauteng Province.
'Shelters', 'missions', or 'white informal settlements' are a peculiar update of apartheid government's 'improvement' schemes aimed at reintegration of poor whites back into the society of privilege and a part of a broader tendency towards privatisation of some of the functions of the old regime in a neoliberal setting.
Today there are around 80 rent-based 'shelters', concentrated primarily in the northern part of Gauteng Province. Located on the private land and registered as non-for-profit organisations, these spaces are essentially invisible for the state and are also excluded from the broader process of development of the city from below, thus representing a trend towards ethnic-based autonomisation and seclusion of urban informality.
Economic bases and types of communities produced in the settlements vary: one can encounter a tightly surveilled 'mini-volkstaat' in the making, a worker's commune, an old-age home or a criminal operation in disguise of a night shelter. However, these settlements share a number of common features: they are located in the secluded areas where inhabitants have to comply with a set of rules and tight spatial regulations outlined by the owner.
Based on a method of participant observation and in-depth informal interviews with residents and formalised interviews with the owners of the 'shelters', the paper describes political economy, everyday functioning, sets of informal rules and spatial arrangements of these settlements. The paper also seeks to conceptualise the status of the 'shelters' and place them in the broader context of South African urban informality.

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