Party identification and service delivery protests in the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape, South Africa

  • Sethulego Matebesi
  • Lucius Botes
Keywords: service delivery protest, partisanship, identity, political action, South Africa

Abstract

Service delivery protests against municipalities in South Africa have become common. This
article discusses the relationship between party identification and these protests. It presents an
in-depth analysis of two qualitative case studies: one in the Eastern Cape Province, where
protests have mainly been about the shortage and poor quality of housing, and one in the
Northern Cape, where protests were mainly aimed at getting the mayor to resign. A widely
held view in the social movement literature is that the stronger the identification with the
ruling party the less likely people are to protest, even when they have cause to do so. In South
Africa, the connection between party affiliation and social movement is blurred. We found
that partisan protesters were consequently able to navigate successfully between the party and
concerned residents’ groups. There is a pressing need to consider what norms and values these
protests will transmit to future generations.

Key Words: service delivery protest, partisanship, identity, political action, South Africa

Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1027-4332