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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Victims, Villains and Fixers: The Urban Environment and Johannesburg's Poor
Authors:Beall, Jo
Crankshaw, Owen
Parnell, Susan
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:urban poverty
Urbanization and Migration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Economics and Trade
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/2637573
Abstract:This article explores the relationship of Johannesburg's poor to the urban environment and, in particular, to urban water supply, sanitation and electricity. On the basis of survey data, case studies, textual analysis and in-depth interviews with policymakers and planners, it reviews how, for a long time under apartheid, urban poor were seen as victims. During the rent boycotts of the late apartheid period, they were seen as villains. This perception persisted well into the postapartheid period, where refusing to pay for services was seen as tantamount to a lack of patriotism. Today, Johannesburg's poor citizens are increasingly being seen as fixers. A key problem facing the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Council (GJMC) is the tension between maintaining established service levels in historically white areas and extending services to new and historically mainly black areas. A plan for improved service delivery involving the establishment of public utilities for water supply and sanitation, electricity and solid waste management has been laid out in the city's new policy document, iGoli 2002. The GJMC appears to have come up with a reasonably creative response to the question of who are to be the fixers. It is addressing issues of housing, living environments and more specifically urban services in a pro-poor way. The issue of inequality is being tackled more coyly by the Council. But the question is whether a metropolitan government such as that of Johannesburg can do any more in the current political climate of South Africa. Notes, ref., sum.