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Essay on Water Privatization is Re-endorsing the Apartheid State

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In 1994, the South African government abandoned its Reconstruction and Development Program that ensured that natural resources, such as water, would be accessible to all citizens irrespective of race or class (Mackinnon, 2005). Forsaking this original mandate, the national government now allowed water bureaucrats the authority to provide water only if there was a full cost recovery of operating and maintenance costs (Mackinnon, 2005). Upon advice from international financial institutions and Western governments, the South African government decreased grants and subsidies to local municipalities forcing them to eventually turn to commercialization and privatization of basic services to make up for the lost revenue (Mackinnon, 2005). Many municipalities began signing contracts with large US and European water firms after heavy lobbying efforts from these private transnational companies (Mackinnon, 2005). In January 2001, the Johannesburg metro privatized their water services and signed a five-year contract with French water company Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux (Mackinnon, 2005). The municipality maintained that by contracting out their water services, they would see an increase in accessibility to water increased efficiency in management (Mackinnon, 2005). However, residents of Black townships in Johannesburg began to see a deterioration in their basic human rights, health and dignity that they were forced to contest (Bond, 2008). Green neoliberalism and the privatization of water hinders social reproduction and amplifies existing racial and classist inequalities globally and specifically in post-apartheid Johannesburg. These perverse hierarchies and their consequential discrimination are met with strong opposition from the poor who figh...


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...e pre-paid parish pump. Law, Democracy and Development 12, 1, pp. 1–28.

Miraftab F (2004). Neoliberalism and casualization of public sector services: The case of waste
collection services in Cape Town, South Africa. International Journal of Urban and Regional
Research 28(4): 874-892.

Narsiah S (2011). Urban Pulse-The Struggle for Water, Life and Dignity in South African Cities: The Case of Johannesburg. Urban Geography. 32(2): 149-155.

Goldman M (2007). How “Water for all!” policy became hegemonic: The power of the World Bank and its transnational policy networks. Geoforum 38(5): 786-800.

Mackinnon D (2005). Water is life: The Anti-Privatisation Forum and the Struggle against Water Privatisation in South Africa. Coalition against Water Privatization.

Lorrain D (2005). The local global firm: Lyonnaise des Eaux. Sociologie du Travail 47(3): 340-361.



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