Neoliberalism and rural exclusion in South Africa: Xolobeni case study

Master Thesis


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This study investigates the exclusion of rural communities from the postcolonial South African nation state as a result of the neoliberal agenda of the democratic government. This is a qualitative study that was conducted using a desktop analysis of literature and information on the case of the rural Xolobeni community and their resistance to mining. The secondary sources analysed included books, journal articles, news articles and online court documents. The study was also guided by the postcolonial concepts of the nation state and neoliberalism, which have both contributed to the conceptualisation of citizenship in the postcolonial world. The study found that economic growth-centred development in South Africa is often at the expense of those living in the poor communities of the country, such as in the rural areas (Capps & Mnwana, 2015; Kunnie, 2000). Rural communities, such as the former Bantustans, are often stripped of their land rights and livelihood strategies without their consent, at the hands of the democratic government of South Africa under the guise of development. This study argues that this is an injustice that results in the exclusion of rural communities from the postcolonial nation state. This exclusion is not only undemocratic – it resembles the oppression of these communities that characterised apartheid in South Africa.