No amount of champagne, cakes or booze-fuelled parties can mask the reality of the what the ANC has become.
Alexandra residents embark on a total shutdown protest demanding better service delivery on April 03, 2019 in Johannesburg. (Photo by Gallo Images/Sowetan/Alon Skuy)
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For people whose lives are constantly disrupted by poverty and general destitution, the idea that peaceful non-disruptive protests will highlight their plight is unrealistic, writes Ralph Mathekga.
a few weeks before the May 8 elections, South Africa is grappling with service
delivery protests which have been spreading across the country since the now infamous
is not surprising to see protests becoming widespread in the days leading up to
the elections. Anyone who has observed South Africa's elections in the past
would know that this is a common phenomenon.
Africa generally experiences higher than average service delivery protests per
day, even outside the election cycle. Whilst researchers do not agree on the
number of protests per day, South Africa is reported to have experienced over 2
000 protests in 2017. That's a high number and means that protesting is
becoming a preferred mode of engagement between politicians and
READ: Ramaphosa's Alex visit smacke of dishonesty and opportunism
is not surprising to see a protest movement such as the Alexandra shutdown
spreading across the country, particularly in the townships in Gauteng. There
have been similar shutdowns in other areas before. For instance, there was a
shutdown in the municipality of Senwabarwana in Limpopo where communities
complained about poor services and the state of public roads.
such as Tembisa in Gauteng experience low-key shutdowns now and again, all
related to service delivery deadlock. Towards the 2016 local government
elections, the IEC reported an increasing number of protests in the weeks and
days leading to the elections.
there is nothing exceptional about what we are currently experiencing; it is a
common phenomenon in the period leading to the elections. Voters have already
realised that politicians often hastily make promises when elections are
looming. Besides this, our political system responds better to crisis than a
normal conversation about delivery of services. This is the reason why voters
tend to engage in disruptive behaviours when they stage protests.
more violent a protest, the more disruptive it becomes; and the more disruptive,
the more likely it will be reported in the news. Localised protests become
national news by the degree to which they are disruptive.
idea of a peaceful protest attaining the desired goals has become laughable.
For people whose lives are constantly disrupted by poverty and general
destitution, the idea that peaceful non-disruptive protests will highlight
their plight is unrealistic. For a nation that has engaged in violent protest
for decades, violence has become the preferred method of delivering the
parties often display poor leadership to communities during these protests.
Quite often, parties are generally concerned about extracting political mileage
out of the protest. The Alex shutdown is a case in point whereby the ANC seeks
to embarrass the DA-led administration struggling to build a relationship with
the people of Alex. The ANC should be blamed for failing to deal with the
squalor that is Alex, whilst the DA should be blamed for failing to tread a new
path with Alex.
Alex situation is a textbook case of failure of intergovernmental relations.
There will be no long-lasting solution for Alex without cooperation between the
municipality, provincial and national government. This means that the solution
for the Alex relies on cooperation between the ANC and the DA at various
spheres of government.
political parties that are instigating protests should know that one way or
another, the problem will soon be on their doorstep. Protests are not going to
stop once we are done with the elections, they will most likely continue as
methods of disrupting business as usual in the system that is becoming
unresponsive to the plight of the poor.
will continue to exert pressure on politicians right into the elections, and
possibly even more intensely after the elections. The shutdown movement might
spread further after the elections.
- Ralph Mathekga is a political analyst and author of When Zuma Goes and Ramaphosa's Turn.Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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