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This PLAAS webinar on 30 September 2021, facilitated by Mbongiseni Buthelezi, aimed to reframe the post-Covid and post-unrest ‘recovery’ discourse to foreground the danger of entrenched corporate power in the food system, and the immediate opportunities to “build back” different and better. This requires an understanding of inequality, power and politics in food systems.

On the basis of social dialogues with people who derive their livelihoods as small-scale farmers, bakkie traders and street sellers, as well as ongoing research, we will report on some of the impacts on these urban food systems and identify ways this moment can be seized to reshape food systems beyond a narrow ‘recovery’ paradigm.

With local government elections on the horizon, concrete action is needed. National regulation and policy should complement local solutions. Local government has a key role to play in creating, expanding and defending public space for non-corporate food producers, distributors and sellers.