Human Rights and the Legal Politics of Water
This chapter examines how the fight against Operation Gcin'amanzi and the prepaid meter led five Phiri residents from Phiri to sue Johannesburg Water and the City of Johannesburg by invoking their constitutionally enshrined right to water. It uses the case Mazibuko v. City of Johannesburg (2009) as a lens to explore “what human rights do” in relation to citizenship and the political terrain. The chapter highlights the significance of the case in terms of demonstrating the translation of the politics of infrastructure into a juridico-political language, as well as enabling an analysis of the larger questions of citizenship and state obligation that were elicited by the struggles around Operation Gcin'amanzi. Finally, it explains how the legal techno-politics involving experts, residents and legal officials became central to the adjudication of key ethical and political questions in the postapartheid period.
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