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06 Jul 2022

Covid crisis could be the catalyst for a return to rural revolt in South Africa

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

The Covid-19 pandemic has created a biomedical crisis with far-reaching cultural, political and economic implications in rural areas. As in the 1950s, there is a rise in rural crime with predatory gangs of young people moving through rural locations to prey on the weak.

It has been 70 years since South Africa experienced nationwide rural revolts. Protest action has been a distinctly urban phenomenon in the country since the 1970s and even after democracy, with the rise of urban service delivery unrest. The aspirational focus of liberation politics has been on urban inclusion, rather than rural reconstruction and development. But with growing reverse migration due to the failure of the urban economy to support jobless young people, chronic rural hunger, shocking levels of Covid-19 deaths, as well as widespread spiritual insecurity due to failed customary practice, the rural social economy and cultural fabric have been shattered.

Professor Leslie Bank is a Deputy Director in the Inclusive Economic Development group at the HSRC. He is the co-author with Nelly Vuyokazi Sharpley of a new book, Covid and Custom in Rural South Africa, which is published by Hurst Press.

Professor Leslie Bank is a Deputy Director in the Inclusive Economic Development group at the HSRC. He is the co-author with Nelly Vuyokazi Sharpley of a new book, Covid and Custom in Rural South Africa, which is published by Hurst Press.

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Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

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