Neoliberalism and casualization of public sector services: the case of waste collection services in Cape Town, South Africa


This article focuses on the waste collection strategies of the municipal government in Cape Town, South Africa, using the case as a point of entry to a wider critique of global neoliberalism and the privatization of municipal services. The analysis of the case sheds light on the links between the cost recovery agenda of the neoliberal state and the casualization of labor. To minimize costs, local governments, like private sector firms, rely on and have enhanced the casualization of labor. This strategy further blurs the conceptual distinction between the public and private sectors, in that the local governments treat citizens as, instead, customers with stratified entitlements to basic services. Stressing the continuities of apartheid under the neoliberal policies, the article identifies specific ways in which the neoliberal government in its postā€apartheid moment uses gender ideologies and the rhetoric of voluntarism and empowerment to justify its use of residents’ underpaid and precarious labor for municipal services in poor black townships.