Delivery: govt won't be pushed

2010-03-11 22:10

Pretoria - Resources for building houses are limited and government can't be pushed with service delivery protests, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane said in Pretoria on Thursday.

"We can't be pushed on the basis of service delivery protests because of people who want to jump the queue. Development will first take place in areas where people came first," she told the National Press Club.

Mokonyane said she was not surprised by threats made by communities to intensify their protests during the Soccer World Cup.

"No one will choose a dull moment for a protest. People will definitely take leverage to accelerate their protests during such time. We've decided not be scared, but rather engage people to avoid drama."

Hurting themselves

South Africa being a constitutional democracy did not mean disgruntled citizens could do what they want, she said, warning protesters against infringing other people's rights.

"What they destroy belongs to their communities. This kind of behaviour results in government having to spend repeatedly the sparse resources on the same projects or facilities."

Areas such as Orange Farm, Soshanguve, Atteridgeville, Mamelodi and Hebron had seen protests recently.

She said some of these actions, camouflaged as service delivery protests, may be caused by people who lost out on government tenders.

"Somebody didn't get a tender to dig a trench. Somebody didn't have a tender to put up posters. They go out and mobilise and all we hear is that it's service delivery protests," she said.

"The blatant disregard of law will not be tolerated and those who are hell-bent on causing havoc will be dealt with harshly."

Genuine grievances

She was "hurt" by the fact so many young children appeared to be involved in these demonstrations when they were supposed to be at school. They should rather get an education to become self-sufficient and not dependant on the government.

"Only in South Africa will you find people closing the national roads and it is not seen as sabotage," said Mokanyane, adding that this instability had a negative effect on the economy.

She appealed for restraint and respect of the law during protests, saying only genuine grievances would be attended to.

Referring to the Thembelihle informal settlement, south of Johannesburg, where residents damaged electricity supply boxes during a protest last week, Mokonyane said they could protest as much as they wanted, but the government would not develop the area.

"There will be no development in that area... we've told people time and again to move but they refused, same as Itireleng."

Health hazard

Itireleng residents, west of Pretoria, where about 800 people built shacks on private land in the hope of being built houses, recently lost a court bid to remain there.

They have vowed to challenge the ruling.

"Itireleng is a health hazard... there was even a problem of contamination of water."

She said the government had to take unpopular decisions at times, but in the end people would understand.