ZKF-Arbeitsgespräche im Sommersemester 22

Community Protests over Perceived Inadequate Municipal Service Delivery in South Africa, 2004-2021



Prof. Sethulego Matebesi, University of the Free State, South Africa


Dr. Billy Kalima

Datum: 2022-06-08


Im Rahmen der Vortragsreihe „Forms and Spaces of Contemporary African Protests“

Since the dramatic eruption of the first two community protests in 2004, post-apartheid South Africa has witnessed unrest of significant proportions at local government level. Using the political trust by drawing on an intricate three-dimensional theoretical framework of trust-institutions-actors, this study investigated the protest dynamics of grassroots organizations in predominantly black neighbourhoods and predominantly white neighbourhoods. The framework explains how political trust, a cognitive function conceptualized as an individual’s confidence in state institutions (a local municipality, in this context), influences actors (citizens) to engage in protest action. While political trust functions as a linkage mechanism between citizens and the political institutions that represent them, the findings suggest that it is the structure of the different community groups (black and white communities) that motivate these group to embark on distinct protests tactics despite a fundamentally set of similar grievances. Civic groups in predominantly black communities are highly fragmented and spontaneous. They often use intimidation, destruction, and violence as protest tactics. Conversely, ratepayers’ associations in predominantly white communities are highly structured and linked to a national organization with more than 300 affiliates across South Africa. These associations withhold rates and taxes from municipalities or provide services on behalf of the municipalities. It is concluded that community protests represent a ravenous political trade-off between political actors and citizens that can be resolved by trust-building.