Carrim looks at triggers of service delivery protests

2010-04-26 00:00

HIGH expectations created during the election campaign, criminal elements and political “entrepreneurs” are among the factors cited by Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Deputy Minister Yunus Carrim as the main reasons behind the bad-mannered service delivery protests.

Carrim was addressing the National Council of Provinces during the budget vote debate for his department before parliament in Cape Town recently.

In a paper titled “Towards a better understanding of service delivery protests”, Carrim attempted to shed light on the origin of the protests, the people behind them and the reasons that normally motivate people to take to the streets.

“The protests have structural, systemic, political, economic, governance, psychological, emotional, and other dimensions,” he stated.

“If we are to be effective in responding to them, we need to understand all the dimensions.

“It is anger, frustration and hopelessness that fuel some of the protesters. In many cases, the burning of clinics, libraries, social development offices and other violent behaviour constitute both acts of destruction and self-destruction. For them, things were bad enough under apartheid rule, and things have just not improved enough under democracy,” he said.

While most protests are directed at municipalities, they are about a failure in service delivery by all three spheres of government.

“Some of the factors influencing service delivery are beyond the control of municipalities.

“Ultimately, the protests reflect the failures of the co-operative governance system as a whole.

“In a sense, the protests may also be a reflection of a culture of dependency on the state that we have unwittingly created since 1994,” he said.

Carrim described the protests as partly an outcome of the mobilisation of people during the last election and the manipulation of people’s feelings by criminal elements. “Experts have observed that there was also a spate of municipal service delivery protests after the 2004 elections,” he said.

Carrim said that the local government turnaround strategy needs to be more effectively implemented. He suggested that, wherever possible, the leaders of the protests be drawn into the municipal structures of the strategy to share some of the responsibility for service delivery.

He also cited the strengthening of ward committees and a review of the functions of the three spheres of government as possible solutions.

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