I may not speak on the legitimacy or lack thereof of service delivery protests but the violence that accompanies them is atrocious and borders on sabotage if not treason. There can never be any justification for the idiocy and mockery that is demonstrated during these protests. No amount of frustration with the ‘government’ in terms of service delivery issues can make noble the actions we take to have our voices heard, as we normally say ‘it is the only language our government understand’. My fundamental question would be; these clinics, libraries, roads and police stations that we burn, to whom do they belong to? Is it government? Maybe yes, but who do they benefit the most? I say they belong to us, the very communities that live amongst them. I may not have other options of how should service delivery concerns be raised BUT destroying what is already ours is shameful and barbaric to say the least.
The violence behind service delivery protests underpins a deeper and sinister character among South Africans which is embodied by the sheer lack of a sense of ownership and community amongst us. I am convinced that people who are prone to violence and destruction of properties during protests are not making any contribution to the development of this country, zilch and therefore have no sense of loss for these worthy possessions. They are easily mobilised into these acts of doom because they lack a sense of work ethic and have enough time over a case of beer on a Tuesday morning to complain about what the government is not doing while impatiently waiting for stolen goods they ‘ordered’ to be delivered. There must be enough empirical evidence that can be unearthed to rationalize my hypothesis that most of the negative conditions that afflict us as communities are as a result of our own thoughts and doings instead of government, for we are the government.
Historically, Africans had a strong sense of ownership and community until Apartheid dehumanised us and we had to use any tool at our disposal to bring down the unjust and evil Apartheid system. But now this country belongs to all who live it and so are its possessions. Scholars on subject of “sense of ownership’ correctly articulates that ‘it is through the feeling that individuals believe they crossed the boundary and made enough contributions that a respectable claim to ownership can flourish’. Therefore as long as we sit on our laurels and continue to complain without any contribution
I call upon us and particularly these leaders that organise these service delivery protests to denounce violence with the repugnance it deserves. I am sure if these so-called leaders can mobilise people for protests they should be able to influence them not to destroy their very own limited resources unless it serves their narrow and self-defeating interests. If you allow the community to destroy a clinic because you want to be a councillor, they will one day bum your house when they want that clinic to rebuild and there is not budget for it rightly so. Let us all restore a political and economic climate that will bring respect to us so that we may be taken seriously in the global arena.
The destruction of property and killing of people during service delivery protests can be eradicated if we all put our minds to it and the ruling party provides leadership to it. Mere calls are not enough but a concerted and deliberate strategy needs to be in place before we also burn our souls. I just imagine my child burning her bed because I twice forgot to include juice in her lunch box.