Pretoria - People's voting behaviour is evidence that local democracy is not maturing as the same underperforming political parties are constantly voted back into power, a local government expert said on Tuesday.
The country had seen a sharp increase in the number of protests, most of which were accompanied by violence, but people had still remained loyal to their parties, said Professor Jaap de Visser, of the University of Western Cape's community law centre.
"The voting behaviour is not based on the same consideration as protest behaviour.
"We see underperformance and frustration in many municipalities, but that does not translate to a change in voting behavior," he said at a conference on municipal services and tax, hosted by lobby group AfriForum at the Centurion council chambers.
De Visser acknowledged the high spirits during the local government elections on May 18 but noted concern at a "very dire" situation on the ground.
According to research he presented, violent protests increased in frequency from 41.6% in 2007 to 54% in 2010.
Most of the protests were about housing, water, sanitation, electricity and poor service delivery, and most were in Gauteng.
De Visser said statements issued by government showed that it was aware of the problem and was taking it seriously.
"Improvements in municipal governance are necessary," he said.