A Progressive Policy without Progressive Politics: Lessons from the failure to implement ‘Breaking New Ground’

  • Richard Pithouse Rhodes University, South Africa
Keywords: Breaking New Ground, BNG, post-apartheid housing, housing policy, South Africa


This article provides a brief overview of post-apartheid housing policy. It argues that, in principle, ‘Breaking New Ground’ (BNG) was a major advance over the subsidy system but that the failure to implement BNG, which has now been followed by more formal moves away from a rights based and towards a security based approach, lie in the failure to take a properly political approach to the urban crisis. It is suggested that a technocratic approach privileges elite interests and that there could be better results from an explicitly pro-poor political approach – which would include direct support for poor people’s organisations to challenge elite interests, including those in the state, and to undertake independent
innovation on their own. 


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