Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Human Rights, Social Movements, South Africa

Rebellion of the poor in South Africa

Richard Pithouse writes an open letter to the South African State challenging their response to popular protest against housing in particular. These protests are not, as the government would have people believe, about service delivery. Rather they are a demand for the rights of the poor to live in the city and to be included in the development process.

A key barrier towards elite understanding of the five-year hydra-like urban rebellion is that protests are more or less uniformly labelled as “service delivery protests”. This label is well suited to those elites who are attracted to the technocratic fantasy of a smooth and post-political developmental space in which experts engineer rational development solutions from above. Once all protests are automatically understood to be about a demand for “service delivery” they can be safely understood as a demand for more efficiency from the current development model rather than any kind of challenge to that model….

It is therefore hardly helpful to assume that protests against forced removals and housing developments that leave people homeless are a demand for more efficient “delivery”. On the contrary, these protests are much more fruitfully understood as a demand for a more inclusive mode of development, in the double sense of including poor people in the cities and of including all poor people in development projects.

Continue reading “Burning message to the state in the fire of poor’s rebellion


  1. Musau

    “experts engineer rational development solutions from above.” Seems to contradict with…”rather than any kind of challenge to that model.” The fact that the model can be legitimately challenged implies the creators of the model cannot be experts nor can they be “engineering” anything “rational”. If the “post-political development space” were rational one would think then it would be understood and welcomed by a rational public. Unless of course the point is that the public is not rational to begin with.

  2. If only our government could lend an ear to the cries of the poor instead of burying its head in the sand.
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