In Cape Town’s informal settlements, the difficulties of living without permanent housing or basic services are compounded by frustrations of waiting for this development—a waiting permeated by the engagement of residents in political and social actions calling for fulfillment of promised development. In this article, I examine the involvement of informal settlement residents within an NGO-coordinated, state-funded participatory development project. I explore how the concept of capacity-building was mobilized within the project, and, ultimately, how it rationalized the uncertainties of bureaucratic processes and the experience of waiting for development. Actors seeking to create development were enlisted to make sense of—and effectively normalize—the experiences of waiting, even against their organizational or personal perspectives. I conclude with a discussion of how these findings can inform praxis, suggesting that development practitioners are responsible to make visible the power dynamics surrounding their own position within projects and should use their platforms to highlight the extant knowledge and skills of the communities with whom they work.

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