Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Neighbourhoods, NIMBYists and nobodies: the local politics of the Corridors of Freedom

19 April, 2017 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm SAST

Venue:  Seminar Room 3, African Centre for Cities
RSVP: Mercy Brown-Luthango at mercy.brown-luthango@uct.ac.za

In 2013, Johannesburg’s former mayor, Parks Tau, announced the ambitious Corridors of Freedom plan to ‘restitch’ Johannesburg through a process of transit-oriented development led by the BRT and supported by a range of interventions intended to densify housing, stimulate economic opportunities, and develop mixed use activities. While the plan envisions large-scale transformation through long-term infrastructure investments, the implementation of the COF has had an immediate and substantial impact at a local level. The various responses of Johannesburg communities have revealed localized governance dynamics and complex relationships with the City and the state, speaking to significant socio-spatial politics in the city.

Based on a survey and key informant interviews the seminar reflects on community organization (or lack thereof); the role of individual and organizational intermediaries; and tactics of engagement with the state. It focuses on three case studies in Johannesburg: Orange Grove and Norwood – a mixed middle class and low-income node on the Louis Botha Corridor; Westbury and Coronationville – a historically coloured area on Empire-Perth Corridor struggling with gang violence, drug abuse and high levels of unemployment; and Marlboro South – an informal community living in reterritorialised industrial buildings adjacent to the historic township of Alexandra. We argue that the Corridors of Freedom project has had a substantial impact on local politics and has revealed significant social and spatial community dynamics across Johannesburg.

This seminar forms part of a research partnership between the AFD, City of Johannesburg and the South African Research Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand.

About The Speakers

Margot Rubin is a senior researcher and faculty member in the University of the Witwatersrand (South African Research Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning) in Johannesburg. Since 2002, she has worked as a researcher, and policy and development consultant focusing on housing and urban development issues, and has contributed to a number of research reports on behalf of the National Department of Housing, the Johannesburg Development Agency, SRK Engineering, World Bank, Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality and Urban LandMark.

Her PhD in Urban Planning and Politics interrogates the role of the legal system in urban governance and its effect on the distribution of scarce resources and larger questions around democracy. She also holds a Masters in Urban Geography from the University of Pretoria, an Honours degree in Geography and Environmental Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Philosophy. Of late, Margot has been writing about inner city regeneration, housing policy and is currently engaged in work around mega housing projects and issues of gender and the city.

Alli Appelbaum is researcher at the South African Research Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning (SA&CP) who holds a Masters in Regional and Urban Planning Studies (with distinction) from the London School of Economics and Political Science, as well as a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Urban History (in the first class) and a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and History (with distinction), both from the University of Cape Town.

Her research interests are broad, meeting at the intersection of History, Geography, Urban Studies and Gender Studies. They include African urbanisms, discourse analysis, LGBT+ and gender issues, urban poverty reduction, informal trading, gated communities and urban governance. She is passionate about research that has impacts both within and beyond academia. At SA&CP she is the project manager for the AFD-funded Corridors of Freedom project, in which she is working with a team of researchers to aid the City of Johannesburg in their ambitious plan to ‘restitch’ Johannesburg, level apartheid spatial inequality and forge a more public-transport-oriented city.

Before joining SA&CP, Alli worked in consulting and the NGO sector. She received a Commonwealth Scholarship through the Canon Collins Trust in 2014 to study for her Masters at LSE and she was a member of the South Africa Washington International Programme in 2012. She was recognised by the Mail & Guardian as one of South Africa’s ‘Top 200 Young South Africans’ in 2016.


19 April, 2017
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm SAST
Event Category:


Mercy Brown-Luthango
021 650 2785




African Centre for Cities
UCT Upper Campus
Cape Town, South Africa
+ Google Map