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    Launch & Conference: Poverty Inequality and Patronage


     November 12 2013

    On the 12th November 2013 MISTRA launched its Research Report on Poverty, Inequality and Patronage, entitled Patronage Politics Divides Us.

    The release of this report marked 18 months of research by MISTRA into patronage politics and how it contributes to some of the problems bedevilling local government politics, and how poverty and inequality relate to political patronage.

    The establishment of local government structures and systems of accountability are among some of attempts at formalising democracy at a local level over the past 17 years. As democratic local government has matured, so have informal relationships between citizens and this sphere of government congealed – ranging from informal recruitment and employment practices, conduct of the councillors and municipal employees, and practices to garner political support and reward, to local community protests.  

    Nineteen years into democratic South Africa, however, it is apparent that local government is facing strain in many areas of the country. Numerous surveys, over different periods, indicate that local government is the least trusted of all spheres of government. Local protests over poor delivery of social services have become a recurrent feature in many communities.

    The report (an Executive Summary of which is attached) is a profile of socio-economic life in South Africa’s various communities as experienced not only by locals, but also by foreign-born residents. The findings also show the relationship between councillors, business interests and local party organisations. Among the issues examined by the research and the report, include:

    ·       What survivalist strategies do the poor adopt to manoeuvre the patronage minefield?

    ·       How do they conduct themselves in relation to the often selective enforcement of municipal by-laws, which itself creates fertile ground for patronage and corruption?

    ·       Where local residents come into conflict with foreign-born nationals or even with migrants from other parts of the country – is this reflective of a shared grievance among the majority?

    ·       How do political parties discourage or entrench patronage politics and, in turn, what effect is this having on the  parties themselves?

    The Launch Conference will share the findings of MISTRA’s research, and some of the recommendations for consideration by policy makers. These range from internal party democracy in processes to select candidates for municipal elections, to the vexed question about the insidious impact of the current system of party political funding.  A programme is attached.

    Speakers included:

    ·       Joel Netshitenzhe, MISTRA Executive Director
    ·       Xolile George, CEO – SALGA
    ·       Mcebisi Ndletyana, MISTRA Political Economy Faculty Head
    ·       Oupa Makhalemele, Member of Research Project Team
    ·       Ralph Mathekga, Member of Research Project Team
    ·       Robert Gallagher, Member of Research Project Team
    ·       Khaya George, Member of Research Project Team
    ·       Yacoob Abba Omar, MISTRA Director of Operations

    Download the Executive Summary of :Poverty Patronage Executive Summary smaller.pdfPoverty Patronage Executive Summary smaller.pdf
    * Patronage Politics Divides Us: A Study of Poverty, Patronage and Inequality in South Africa can be purchased from MISTRA for R175 (excluding postage costs).  Please contact Luvo Mfeya on or Linda Zwane on or call +27 11 518 0260.​

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