Fractured Citizenship and Contestations of Belonging in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 13:30
Oral Presentation
Hlengiwe Patricia NDHLOVU, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
In many post-colonial societies, the inherited nature of the colonial practices seems to undermine the primary requirement of citizenship characterised by certain rights. Many populations have been promised liberties, but following neoliberal expansion in the global South, actual experiences of these rights have been very limited, affecting mostly the marginal groups. This has propelled many struggles across the world to challenge social inequalities. In South Africa, the adoption of some of the neoliberal principles in economic policies has undermined the promises of democracy. This has affected the previously disadvantaged groups as they continue to protest over limited resources. This subject has attracted a number of scholarships both locally and internationally. However, most of them focus on understanding marginalisation of communities by the state whilst underplaying the struggles and contestations over scarce resources among and/or within members of the same community. This paper examines, through an ethnographic study, how community members deploy identities such as inzalelwane (the born and bred), abantu bokufika (new commers), and amagrigamba (‘foreigners’) to include or exclude fellow members from access to state’s limited resources. Drawing from the experience of Duncan Village in the Eastern Cape Province, the paper argues that this form of a fractured citizenship emanating from contestations of identities and belonging undermines the efforts and possibility of collective action in mobilisation for basic services in Duncan Village. The only time when residents of Duncan Village come together is when they are protesting a common good, i.e. electricity. This therefore becomes central in understanding how the state is reconfigured and how citizenship is fractured as marginalised residents take to the streets in protest to challenge their exclusion.