Zuma leads the protest nation

2013-09-22 06:00

The number of service-delivery protests has increased fivefold in the five years of Jacob Zuma’s presidency.

Police crime statistics this week showed that violent “public-order policing incidents” also increased – by 85%, from 1 014 in 2009 to 1 882 in the past financial year.

Between April 2012 and March this year, police responded to 12 399 incidents of public unrest, of which 10 517 were regarded as “peaceful”.

KwaZulu-Natal was the capital of “public-order policing incidents”, with 2?609, followed by Gauteng (2?401), North West (1?667), the Eastern Cape (1?339), the Western Cape (1?243), Limpopo (1?120), the Free State (981), Mpumalanga (603) and the Northern Cape (433).

These protests were recorded either as related to service delivery or were strikes related to labour disputes.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said that “unresolved social issues” had seen “some members of the public expressing themselves through structured and nonstructured public gatherings, marches and sometimes public protests”.

“In addition, there are some instances where these have led to criminal elements being able to make use of public gatherings and protests to pursue criminal acts,” said Mthethwa, adding that police recorded 46 180 such “incidents” over the past four years.

Municipal IQ, an independent monitor of service-delivery protests and trends, said there were only 107 such protests between 2004 and 2008 compared with a staggering 584 protests between 2009 and August 2013.

There were 173 service-delivery protests last year, the highest number since the first recorded protests in 2004.

The year 2006 was the quietest in South Africa, protest-wise, with only two incidents recorded that entire year, said Municipal IQ.

This year has already seen 112 service-delivery protests and Gauteng is no longer the protest capital.

“While Gauteng remains protest afflicted, it has been overtaken by the Eastern Cape, which has experienced a rash of protests in both urban and rural areas.?Similarly, a diverse group of KwaZulu-Natal municipalities have experienced growing levels of protest activity, surpassing the Western Cape where protest activity has receded so far this year,” said Karen Heese, an economist at Municipal IQ.

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