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SALGA hosts panel discussion on strategies to deal with violent community protests

Posted: 08 June 2017

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SALGA on Wednesday, 08 June hosted a panel discussion on Protest Management Norms in Local Government at the SALGA National Office in Pretoria.

The objective of the panel discussion was to collate relevant content that will assist in developing a framework to guide municipalities in the appropriate and constitutional application of the Regulation of Gatherings Act.

The panel consisted of Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller, executive director of the Democracy and Service Delivery Division of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), Dr. Jane Duncan, researcher and author of Protest Nation and Mr. Albert Masera, Superintendent: Specialised Services at the City of Johannesburg.

Justin Steyn who is the Policy Analyst at SALGA presented a Review of SALGA’s Findings on Community Protest Studies in 2010 and in 2015. All the evidence collected to date demonstrates that protests are complex matters tied to local conditions and dimensions. Successfully managing protests is contingent on addressing a number of institutional and social issues, many of which are unrelated to local government’s service delivery mandates.

Dr. Jane Duncan from the University of Johannesburg, a researcher, and author of Protest Nation spoke at the SALGA Community Protest Dialogue, she said South Africa has become a nation defined by its protests. Dr. Duncan said protests can, and do, bring societal problems to public attention in direct, at times dramatic ways. But governments the world over are also tempted to suppress this right, as they often feel threatened by public challenges to their authority. Her research covered how municipalities have applied the Regulation of Public Gatherings.

Nomusa Ngwenya SALGA's Director for Local Governance and Development Data facilitated the panel discussions during the dialogue and said public participation norms and structures and poor intergovernmental coordination are major contributors to protest actions.

Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller, executive director of the Democracy and Service Delivery Division of the Human Sciences Research Council made a presentation on an approach to possible protest management strategies and most likely interpretations of the Regulation of Gatherings Act.

The meeting concluded with a recommendation that a learning network is formed, to assist municipalities to apply the administrative interpretation of the Public Gatherings Act, and to facilitate peer learnings around better practices that address the causes of public protest action directly related to municipal mandates.

 
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