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  • Erik Bähre

Mutuality is at the heart of the continued violence and inequality in South Africa. This historical and anthropological analysis of Cape Town's taxi associations reveals how mutuality has become strongly connected with violence and economic marginalization. The breakdown of apartheid led to new mutualities along the rural–urban divide, which resulted in taxi wars between ‘urban insiders’ and ‘rural outsiders’. After liberation from apartheid, mutuality within Cape Town's taxi associations became a central issue in government policy and commercial interests, which contributed to taxi associations becoming mafia-like organizations. This analysis reveals that taxi owners today find themselves in a trickle-up economy characterized by: violent and shifting mutualities; the embrace of illegality and informality as being vital to doing business; and strong economic intervention by the state.

La mutualité est au cœur de la violence et de l'inégalité qui persistent en Afrique du Sud. Cette analyse historique et anthropologique des associations de taxis de Cape Town révèle comment la mutualité est devenue fortement liée à la violence et la marginalisation économique. La désintégration de l'apartheid a débouché sur de nouvelles mutualités construites sur le clivage urbain-rural qui ont entraîné des guerres de taxis entre les « autochtones urbains » et les « étrangers ruraux ». Après la libération de l'apartheid, la mutualité dans laquelle s'inscrivaient les associations de taxis de Cape Town est devenue un enjeu majeur, dans la politique gouvernementale et les intérêts commerciaux, qui a contribué à la mafiosisation des associations de taxis. Cette analyse révèle que les propriétaires de taxis se trouvent dans une économie qualifiée de « trickle-up » (ascendante), caractérisée par : des mutualités violentes et changeantes, l'acceptation de l'illégalité et de l'informalité comme essentielles à la conduite des affaires, et la forte intervention de l’État dans l’économie.

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