All little sisters got to try on big sister's clothes: the community council system in South Africa

Block, Robin
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The Community Councils Act of 1977 provided for the establishment of community councils in the African urban townships - the urban locus for the management and reproduction of the African labour force in the cities and towns of 'white' South Africa. Community councils were to replace the largely defunct urban bantu councils (UBCS) and advisory boards in the townships. They were to take over significant aspects of the execution of state urban management - reproduction policy in the townships from administration boards. By March 1980, according to the Department of Cooperation and Development '(CAD) 224 community councils had been established. Elections had been held in 193 cases, with an average poll of 41,9%.2 CAD 'facts' and 'figures' notwithstanding, by 1980 things did not look too healthy for the community council-. In reality, the period from 1977 - when the first council was instituted in the Vaal townships - saw the rejection of community councils by the vast majority of township residents all over South Africa, resulting in the effective failure of the system - in its first incarnation, at any rate. The council system was restructured slightly as part of Koornhof's "new deal" bills in October 1980 ; massively rejected and sent for redrafting, the latest version of the community council has just seen the light of day in the Black Local Authorities Bill of March this year. This bill has now been sent to a Parliamentary Select Committee for review. This paper examines the community council system, since 1977 and locates it within the broader patterns of changing state urban management reproduction policy, which is, arguably, in an ongoing state of crisis.
African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented 19 April, 1982
Community organization. South Africa