Captured States and Political Machines: first thoughts on Ethekweni

Captured States and Political Machines: first thoughts on Ethekweni

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Date(s) - Wed - 11 Sep
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm



DATE: Wednesday, 11th September 2019

TIME: 12:00 – 1:30 pm

VENUE: Steve Biko Campus – DUT, UFC offices, S2 Block, Level 4, Room DP4.01B (UFC Common Room). Entrance Gate 1 & 2. 79 Steve Biko Road

Research Abstract:
In recent years, at a time when there has been much in the South African media about ‘corruption’ and ‘captured states’, urban sociologists and political scientists have started researching various forms of ‘Tammany Hall’ politics seen across the country. They draw on a rich urban studies literature that studies the political machines run by city halls. What might a historian add to these debates? Drawing on a case study of Durban/Ethekweni, in this paper I tentatively suggest how the political and business elites in office in South Africa today have their origins in the urban revolts of the 1980s/90s. Second, I speculate that in the 2000s Ethekweni Metropolitan Municipality provided a paradigmatic example of an effective city hall machine, distributing housing and infrastructure to an ANC voting public whilst also providing lucrative contracts to well connected insiders. Thirdly, I point towards the fractures in this form of redistributive politics, which have particularly been seen in the 2010s.

Dr Tim Gibbs is a lecturer in African History at University College London. His current project, which was sponsored by the NRF Chair in Local Histories at the University of Witwatersrand, is provisionally titled ‘The Zuma-Tsunami: migration, auto-mobility and the collapse of apartheid cities’. He did an MA in Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu Natal almost two decades ago, and tries to return to KZN every year.

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