Politics hijacking service protests – minister

2014-03-14 14:13

Communities’ protests over service delivery inadequacy are being marked by political squabbling, Co-operative Governance Minister Lechesa Tsenoli has said.

“Some of the struggles we see in the streets are caused by poor infrastructure and we are partly responsible for [that] and are working on it. There is a diversity of reasons, however, for the protests,” he told journalists in Pretoria today.

“This diversity [of reasons] includes the conduct of councillors and the presence of unaddressed issues. The other reasons are more of political contestation, positioning, which uses genuine grievances that exist.”

He said in such protests, destruction of public infrastructure was viewed as the only way to attract the authorities’ attention.

The government was exploring ways of improving its responsiveness to avoid further destruction of property.

“We will not completely do away with protests, they will always be there. All we hope for is that by improving the quality of interaction with communities, they will not find any reason in the kind of protests that we have seen.

“We hope communities will choose other methods, such as marching and presenting memorandums,” he said.

Tsenoli said his department, working together with the SA Local Government Association and the Treasury, was promoting the establishment and effective functioning of municipal public accounts committees.

These committees would introduce additional checks and balances in municipal financial management and improve governance.

On government’s Community Work Programme, Tsenoli said the project reached 206 166 participants in the current financial year.

The programme platform provided “minimum level regular work” on two days per week and 100 days per year at a wage rate presently set at R71 per day.

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