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Ongeziwe Mlonyeni
 
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Civil society protests are an ANC legacy

03 October 2017, 15:48

Still, after 23 years of independence in South Africa civil society protests are still a thing.

Statistics from a relevant source stipulate that in 2014, 122 violent protests were reported, and in total, including non-violent protests, the number amounts to 569 in Gauteng alone.

For one province, the statistics are high! The government of the day constantly fails to deliver according to the promise, and that continues to provoke the public, and it probes continuous civil society protests.

One sees the drastically increasing number of protests as bad for the government – it delegitimises the ANC-led government in the sense that protests against service delivery, patronage and corruption have reached crisis level.

Most significantly, one is left with a big question: Why should the ANC be believed when they are complicit in the range of shady tenders that results in the shoddy provision of basic services to the poor?

Its leaders have evaded multiple charges of corruption, and yet no one accounts for those charges.

The one thing about the people’s everyday protests for a “better life” is that they remain unanswered and unattended to by politicians. Instead they get a strong negative counteraction from the police.

The field of academia calls this phenomenon politics of the poor. It refers to individuals being mistreated when protesting for their constitutional rights. It is the way government reacts when the people on the ground protest as if what they are calling for is not on the constitution or legitimate.

It is saddening how protests, especially service delivery in local jurisdictions, still lacks political engagement. Civil society protests are just protests, and there is no political dialogue, yet they seek to call upon the government to intervene. The Only people that show up first in civil society protests are the police. Police are there to block further protest.

What remains a big question is the absence of the politicians in the scenes. Politicians are not interested in hearing the motives behind the complaints, but send police to attend and manage the mobs.

The other big question is – where is the political engagement? For some weird reason, I feel like the police are always there to depoliticise the protests – like the situation 5 years ago in Marikana.

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