1st Edition

The Age of Commodity Water Privatization in Southern Africa

By Greg Ruiters, David A. McDonald Copyright 2005

    As globalization and market liberalization march forward unabated the global commons continue to be commodified and privatized at a rapid pace. In this global process, the ownership, sale and supply of water is increasingly a flashpoint for debates and conflict over privatization, and nowhere is the debate more advanced or acute than in Southern Africa. The Age of Commodity provides an overview of the debates over water in the region including a conceptual overview of water 'privatization', how it relates to human rights, macro-economic policy and GATS. The book then presents case studies of important water privatization initiatives in the region, drawing out crucial themes common to water privatization debates around the world including corruption, gender equity and donor conditionalities. This book is powerful and necessary reading in our new age of commodity.

    Introduction: From Public to Private (to Public Again?) * Part I: Theory and Practice - Theorizing Water Privatization in Southern Africa * The New Water Architecture of SADC * The Constitutional Implications of Commercializing Water in South Africa * Turning Off the Taps on the GATS * Part II: Case Studies in South Africa - Entrenching Inequalities: The Impact of Corporatization on Water Injustices in Pretoria * Managing the Poor by Remote Control: Johannesburg's Experiments with Prepaid Water Meters * Public Money, Private Failure: Testing the Limits of Market Based Solutions for Water Delivery in Nelspruit * The Political Economy of Public Private Contracts: Urban Water in Two Eastern Cape Towns * The Murky Waters of Second Wave Neoliberalism: Corporatizing as a Service Delivery Model in Cape Town * 'Free Water' as Commodity: The Paradoxes of Durban's Water Service Transformations * The Rise and Fall of Water Privatization in Rural South Africa: A Critical Evaluation of the ANC's First Term of Officer, 1994-1999 * Part III: Case Studies in the Region - Stillborn in Harare: Attempts to Privatize Water in a City in Crises * 'There is Still No Alternative': The Beginnings of Water Privatization in Luska * Water Privatization in Namibia: Creating a New Apartheid? * The New Face of Conditionalities: The World Bank and Water Privatization in Ghana * Index


    David A McDonald is Director of the Development Studies Programme at Queen's University, Canada. Greg Ruiters is Senior Lecturer in Political Studies at Rhodes University, South Africa.