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SALGA deeply concerned about violent community

Posted: 06 May 2016

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An Exploratory Study conducted by the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) on “How does Local Government Perceive Community Protest?” was released in March 2016 as part of SALGA’s initiatives to restore human dignity. The study is available on SALGA’s website: http://salga.org.za/pages/Knowledge--Hub/Local-Government-Briefs

Local government is about entrenching democracy by touching lives of people through the direct election of public representatives, therefore the study was important in order for us to determine how local government perceives community protests, identify possible recommendations and interventions.
Among others; the study revealed the following:

  • Community protests often occur in response to poor communication. Information is not circulating down to grassroots correctly. However, Local Government officials in the Metropolitan municipalities claimed that minority groups in communities protest on resolved issues simply because the results were not favourable to them.
  • While many Community Protests occur within the ambit of the law, quite a few protests are illegal. However, violence emerges from both legally recognised and unrecognised protests. Emerging arbitrary violence concerns Local Government as it makes it imperative to collect information on community concerns on an ongoing basis. Such information must be used to proactively address community and neighbourhood concerns before citizens become frustrated and resort to violence.
  • Consultation between all role players in service delivery and communities will reduce information asymmetries that cause community protest action.
  • Uncoordinated planning between spheres of government in shared service provision contributes to service delivery bottlenecks and protest action.

SALGA is deeply concerned by the continued violent protests in Limpopo at Vuwani and Levubu which resulted in the torching of 17 schools. Violent and disruptive community protest costs municipalities a significant amount of resources that would be better spent in driving service delivery. The uninsured costs of community protests are costing Local Government valuable resources. For example, the City of Cape Town Safety and Security representative indicated that R6 million was spent monthly on repairing damage to property caused by criminal elements within protest actions.

The Constitution protects the rights of everyone to assemble, demonstrate, picket and present petitions in an unarmed and peaceful manner. These rights, however, by no means allow for criminal behaviour such as the destruction of property, or the intimidation and assault of other individuals in pursuit of any objective.

 

 

 
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