Original Research

Hallmarks of irresponsible and unresponsive governance: Internal xenophobic attacks in South Africa’s municipalities

S Makwembere
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 11, No 4 | a47 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v11i4.47 | © 2015 S Makwembere | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 February 2016 | Published: 31 December 2015

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S Makwembere, Department of Sociology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa, South Africa

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Municipalities face major pressures to demonstrate that they are responsible and responsive institutions. At present, different policies and institutions exist to guide local governance in pursuit of numerous ideals through various assigned roles and responsibilities. Broadly, the latter involve government’s vision of participatory development, citizen engagement and innovative service delivery amongst other things. Xenophobia has been a particular challenge to the South African government’s vision for local governance, especially due to its complex contributing factors. Using document analysis, this article discusses issues around citizenship and regionalism as suggested in policies and strategies on local governance in view of the realities of xenophobic attacks. The experiences of marginalised migrants as stakeholders of local governance reveal the paradoxes of xenophobic attacks as local governance agenda on responsibility and responsiveness this article suggests implications of the conceptualisation of citizenship and regionalism in municipal approaches to local governance. Political and economic restructuring associated with local governance goals are undoubtedly shape constructions of citizenship and regionalism. As sustainable solutions to the problem of xenophobia are yet to be achieved, this article concludes by offering possible routes to local governance that broaden what is conceptualised as responsible and responsive vision and action in addressing xenophobia.


xenophobia; citizenship; regionalism; local governance; South Africa


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