Accepted Paper:

Crafting municipal instruments to co-manage urban parks in post-apartheid Johannesburg: between neoliberal rationalities, transformative mandate and conflicting engagements with park users.   


Claire Benit-Gbaffou (Wits University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper analyses how policy instruments are being developed by the City of Johannesburg to foster the joint management of urban parks, in the post-apartheid context of neoliberal pressures and yet a strong municipal redistributive mandate, through conflict-ridden engagements with park user groups.

Paper long abstract:

Whilst Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ) has stated its strong redistributive objective in post-apartheid Johannesburg, with the rapid development of new urban parks in former Black townships, its operational budgets have remained limited, in the face of many pressing housing and infrastructural needs of the city. Many park users, especially in formerly white and middle classes suburbs, have resorted to form of neighborhood or community management to compensate for JCPZ scarce resources. JCPZ is however attempting to rebuild its mandate over these public spaces, developing a series of policy instruments to respond but also formalize the involvement of park users in the management of urban parks. The paper traces the genealogy of these policy instruments in the making, caught between multiple logics where neoliberal pressures and models, regular engagements with park users marked by contested legitimacies and racial tensions, and the municipal broader transformative agenda, shape the way in which the post-apartheid state redefines its mandate.

Panel P131
Popular claim-making, public authority and governance in urban Africa