Protests: Zuma’s right

2014-02-16 14:00

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The ANC is a victim of its own successes, ­Francois Cronje, CEO of the SA Institute of Race Relations, has said.

Cronje was responding to statements made by President Jacob Zuma during his state of the nation speech in Parliament on Thursday evening.

Zuma said it was wrong to attribute all the country’s ­service-delivery protests to government’s failures.

“The dominant narrative in the case of the protests in South Africa has been to attribute them to alleged failures of government. However, the protests are not simply the result of ‘failures’ of government, but also of the success in delivering basic services. When 95% of households have access to water, the 5% who still need to be provided for feel they cannot wait a moment longer.”

The ANC’s successes in delivering services, Zuma said, raised expectations in communities.

Cronje agreed with Zuma.

“He is quite right. We have been saying this for some time. It makes perfect sense. If you improve the standards of living, you create an expectation for more. And if you don’t meet that expectation, you create serious political problems, which manifest themselves in service delivery protests.”

He said it was a good thing for the ANC to arrive at this conclusion.

“Delivery hasn’t failed, it is one of the ANC’s successes. For every shack built after 1994, 12 low-cost houses have been built. That’s the scale of delivery.”

While service-delivery issues such as the lack of water, infrastructure and houses may have sparked many of the recent service-delivery protests that have swept across the country, Cronje said the real reason behind the protests was the lack of jobs.

“It is the desperation of young people who don’t work. There are millions of young people who don’t work. They are protesting because they see that their neighbour’s life has improved. Therefore, their expectations have been ­legitimately raised.

“The continuation in the improvement of living standards create instability as people don’t understand why their own lives are not improving.”

Responding to the state of the nation speech, labour federation Cosatu echoed Cronje’ sentiments.

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said: “The long-term solution to strikes and protests in the country lies not just in further regulations and police action, but through the transformation of our economy and the ­creation of thousands of decent, sustainable jobs, decent wages and a far more equitable distribution of the country’s wealth.”

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