The ‘ballot and the brick’: protest, voting and non-voting in post-apartheid South Africa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Over the last decade, protest has become an enduring feature of the post-apartheid political landscape. Despite this wave of protest, the African National Congress (ANC) has largely retained its dominant status. The endurance of the ANC’s electoral support in spite of the high levels of protest has led Susan Booysen to conclude that protests in South Africa form part of a ‘dual repertoire’ of political contestation. She argues that protests are used to signal grievances to the ANC between elections but that, ultimately, people remain loyal to the party of liberation. This article interrogates Booysen’s claim through advancing an analysis of voting district and ward-level data in protest hotspots. The article highlights weaknesses in the methodological base of Booysen’s thesis. By analysing the support for the ANC amongst the estimated eligible voting-age population, this article suggests a different relationship between voting and protesting in post-apartheid South Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-436
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Contemporary African Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • Protest
  • South Africa
  • non-voting
  • post-apartheid politics
  • voting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'The ‘ballot and the brick’: protest, voting and non-voting in post-apartheid South Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this