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The Anatomy of a Cato Manor 'Popcorn Protest', 24 October

Speaker: Faith Manzi
Date: Thursday 24 October, 2013
Time: 12:30-14:00
Venue: CCS Seminar Room 602, 6th Floor, MTB Tower, Howard College

Popcorn protests pop up, stay in the air briefly, and fall back to land somewhere unpredictable. While they are in the air, if the wind is blowing in a bad direction, the protests may shift from a 'service delivery' target, to a xenophobic attack on an immigrant. The high rate of protest in South Africa faces an anti-climax: here today and gone tomorrow. But these insurgencies should not be taken lightly. The strategies of popcorn protesters are complicated, as they assess the balance of forces and choose tactics accordingly. The blocking of major roads is one example, used as a strategy to impose costs on higher-income, more powerful people, in order to have their grievances attended to immediately, followed by escalating tactics that sometimes get out of control. Cato Manor Ward 30 is a case for careful consideration, especially the events in May-August. Nearby, in Ward 101 of Cato Crest, protests backed by strong community organising by Abahlali baseMjondolo continued into October, and were met by extreme state force including the assassinations of two leaders and a police murder of a student. The Ward 30 activists had different class, geographical and political locations - and their situation needs to be understood if the divides between the oppressed are overcome in a broader civil society challenge to power.

Faith Manzi is a CCS researcher and Durban based activist. She is also a writer and a journalist.

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