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This is our water : The politics of locality and the commons in the city of Bulawayo

Title data

Schramm, Katharina ; Dube, Mmeli:
This is our water : The politics of locality and the commons in the city of Bulawayo.
In: Anciano, Fiona ; Wheeler, Joanna (ed.): Political Values and Narratives of Resistance : Social Justice and the Fractured Promises of Post-colonial States. 1. Auflage. - London : Routledge , 2021 . - pp. 105-123 . - (Routledge Research on Decoloniality and New Postcolonialisms ; 11 )
ISBN 978-0-367-63905-1

Abstract in another language

The city of Bulawayo has had water problems since its establishment. This is partly due to the semi-arid climate within which it is situated, but also to rising levels of demand that have not been met with adequate supply. There are many disagreements among various stakeholders around ownership and management of water infrastructure. Between 2005 and 2015, two waves of protests occurred that had a profound impact on citizen-state relations at both the national and local levels of government. The first wave, 2005–2008, was supported by local city authorities as well as residents. They directed their protest at the ruling government’s decision to effectively transfer the management and ownership of the city’s water resources to a central government agency, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA). The transfer to that agency was part of a national program supposedly meant to improve water provision in the country’s cities and towns. However, the residents of Bulawayo and other cities that were run by the opposition regarded this decision about a common good – water – as a paternalistic assault on their political autonomy. In the end, these protests were successful, and Bulawayo remained the only city in control of its water resources. A few years later, the second wave of protests, 2011–2015, took a different turn. This time, people directed their protest at the City of Bulawayo and its decision to privatize the common good by introducing prepaid water meters. Again, the city’s rationale for the intended changes in the water management system was, purportedly, to improve supply and access. Yet, the residents of Bulawayo fiercely rejected this intervention, this time framing their protests in the language of indignation and need. This chapter critically engages the shifting political subjectivities of protesters in relation to national and local authorities in Bulawayo. By rethinking the notion of water as a common good, it also critically engages the concept of the moral economy as a lens of interpreting the ways in which the citizens in Bulawayo perceive and engage with the state.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a book
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Water; Zimbabwe; Post-Colonialism; Decoloniality
Subject classification: Social and Cultural Anthropology
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies
Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies > Chair Social and Cultural Anthropology > Chair Social and Cultural Anthropology - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Katharina Schramm
Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies > Chair Social and Cultural Anthropology
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 300 Social sciences
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2021 07:53
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2021 07:53