Urban Forum

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 247–264

Dilemmas of Representation in Post-apartheid Durban


DOI: 10.1007/s12132-007-9019-0

Cite this article as:
Low, M., Ballard, R. & Maharaj, B. Urban Forum (2007) 18: 247. doi:10.1007/s12132-007-9019-0


This paper aims to provide a sketch of the ways in which ‘formal’ institutions of democratic representation worked in practice in Durban/eThekwini in the 2000-2004 period. In so doing, it assesses how the representation of eThekwini’s citizens functioned at both the ward and metropolitan levels. After outlining the formation of the new metropolitan political arena, we consider the relationships amongst political parties at Metro and Ward levels, and, in particular, explore some contextually specific forms of democratic practice which emerged through the interaction of proportional representation and ward representation over time. The election of councillors as such does not resolve a series of dilemmas concerning how to institutionalise democratic representation within a racially diverse, spatially divided, and rapidly changing metropolitan area. Electoral-representative aspects of a urban democratisation are not a straightforward ‘formal’ framework alongside which other processes of democratic discussion, mobilisation and contestation can be easily situated.


Local democracy Durban Post-apartheid 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and EnvironmentThe London School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK
  2. 2.School of Development StudiesUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of GeographyGeography, School of Environmental SciencesScottsvilleSouth Africa

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