African business, politics and lifestyle
Zuma’s time to deliver?
Poor South Africans have called upon newly elected president Jacob Zuma to keep his election promises on service delivery. The past week has seen a number of protests flaring up across South Africa against what protesters called poor service delivery.
In one township in the country’s Mpumalanga province residents barricaded the entire township, burning tyres, throwing stones at policemen and calling for the head of the local mayor, whom they described as “good for nothing”. “There is no development. You can see for yourself,” one resident told journalists. He spoke of alleged neglect and apparent self enrichment from local government officials.
Locals also complained about being “overlooked” for jobs in the local municipalities in favour of people from outside.
Demonstrations lasted nearly the whole day on Wednesday 22nd July. Later in the afternoon the local municipal council came to address the crowds who-for-a-while refused to listen to their elected officials. One thing they wanted clarified was whether their brothers and sisters- arrested during the last two days of protests would be released before they could listen to whatever the town council’s meeting had concluded. Ninety-nine residents had been taken into police custody.
Siyathemba Township is but one example of this recent surge in protests against perceived lack of service delivery. The challenges of getting access to water and sanitation facilities, health care, employment, and electricity fifteen years into democratic South Africa are being brought up, albeit via the protests.
The residents in Siyathemba said they want Zuma to act on non-performing government officials. Do these protests suggest that poor South Africans are exercising their democratic right by speaking out on non performing government officials? Does the South African government simply view these protestors as unruly and unemployed youths who are out to damage the reputation of the country and Zuma? Or does national government pressure local and provincial governments to deliver on their elections mandate?