This paper is based on field research in Ekurhuleni Metro, Vosloorus (Wards 44 and 47). The recent demarcation of wards and the creation of an attendant system of political representation (ward councillors) and participation structures (ward committees), was intended to enhance democratic participation. However, this can only be fully achieved if the population of a ward has a strong sense of ownership of both their spatial community and local politics. But all wards are socially and culturally diverse. The questions then become: how is this diversity dealt with in the political sphere? What are the dynamics of identification for the inhabitants of the wards? How can local democracy, in the context of internal diversity, be just, in the sense of integrating diverse communities or of facilitating expression of differences?

The paper argues that in some ways diversity is recognised, and given the political space for expression but some identities are not accepted, and amongst these, the socio-spatial identifications internal to the wards are treated with ambivalence. Yet while the importance of spatial division is not acknowledged, it is still very important in the functioning of the ward. The central argument in this paper is that spatial issues in the implementation of local democracy are not acknowledged sufficiently and that space matters.


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pp. 83-97
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