Western Cape protests blamed on grievances, non-delivery

2015-05-29 09:33


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Cape Town - While the Western Cape has among the lowest levels of fruitless and wasteful expenditure by government, 14% of all nationwide protests have taken place in the province.

This in comparison to 21% of protests in Gauteng and 18% in the Eastern Cape.

Research by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has found that protests were more likely to occur in areas where wasteful government spending was rife. There was R768m in fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the Eastern Cape and R508m in Gauteng according to the Auditor General’s 2012/2013 Public Finance Management Act report.

The Western Cape recorded only R1m in fruitless and wasteful expenditure, but the province experienced 14% of major service delivery protests occurred in the province.


IRR research analyst Gabriela Mackay explained this could be attributed to elements of party-political grievances, the non-delivery of municipal services and, in some cases, grievances aimed not at the municipality but at the State.

“While the Western Cape has not incurred expenditure in vain, the municipalities may not be providing the services that the residents feel that they most urgently need.

“In other cases the services may have been provided, but were provided in a manner that was viewed as being unacceptable to the residents.”

This was the case with the provision of portable toilets rather than closed permanent brick versions in Makhaza, Khayelitsha in 2010, Mackay said.

City of Cape Town opposition leader Tony Ehrenreich said the data proves that local and provincial government “know how to tick the boxes” and puts the importance of a clean audit above the urgent needs of the people.

“This result merely shows they know how to follow procedure,” he said.

“It is not indicative of the delay in urgent service delivery the people living in poor communities face as this government puts keeping their audit clean ahead of prioritising urgent needs.”

Growing inequality

The growing chasm between the rich and the underprivileged is causing much frustration for those living in dire conditions, he said.

“Services are rolled out to the wealthy before the poor. This province has also seen the biggest increase in inequality since 1994 in comparison to the rest of the country.

“People protest because they are not getting the service they feel they deserve.”

Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance chairperson Philip Bam said the easiest way to avoid protests of any kind is to “simply listen to the people before it escalates”.

“The most important thing for the City and Province to remember is to be more compassionate when dealing with unhappy or dissatisfied residents.

“If communities feel they are being heard when they send a letter or make a verbal complaint, they will be much less likely to try to get their attention with a burning tyre.”

96% increase in protests

The IRR found there has been a 96% increase in protests in South Africa since 2010.

In a statement, the institute reported that during 2013/2014 there were 11 668 peaceful, crowd-related incidents, 1 907 unrest-related incidents, and 1 691 incidents of public violence according to the police’s annual report.

These cases include major service delivery protests, industrial action, demarcation issues and conflict between political parties.

Read more on:    cape town  |  service delivery  |  protests

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