Partizipation and conflict – The cases of Walmer Township in Port Elizabeth and the Abahali baseMjondolo shack-dweller movement in Durban

This paper explores the nexus of public participation and conflict, and the potential for conflict transformation through forms of participation and deliberation, in the context of post-1994 South Africa. The urban research setting to investigate this relationship is Walmer Township in the city of Port Elizabeth drawing on the writing of Henri Lefebvre, among others. It further discusses forms of protest and everyday resistance such as vandalism and how these forms of citizen action have brought about new participatory spaces for a selected group of township residents to engage with the state and it draws attention to the obstacles to the transformational potential of these collaborations. It concludes that there exist different structures of community based organisations and many initiatives of mutual self-help in Walmer Township, but that these initiatives are not directed at a more radical transformation like those proposed most prominently by the Abahali baseMjondolo shack-dweller movement that originated from protests against forced evictions of the Kennedy Road Informal Settlement in Durban. This paper argues that Walmer Township residents rather aim for empowerment in close relation to established structures and the existing system and do not significantly challenge these.


Stefanie Probst . Duisburg-Essen University / Nelson Mandela University .

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