There were 1 745 service delivery protests in communities across the Eastern Cape in the last three financial years according to the provincial Department of Safety and Liaison. For the same period, the South African Police Service (SAPS) logged “crowd management incidents” which included a total of 2 991 scenes classified as a “peaceful crowd”, 1 216 cases of “crowd unrest” and a further 754 incidents of “other unrest”. This year, the trend is definitely upward again.
In a reply to a legislature question I asked the MEC for Safety and Liaison, Weziwe Tikana, the protest action was due to dissatisfaction with the delivery of basic municipal services such as water, electricity and toilets in informal settlements, the high rate of unemployment, poor infrastructure and the lack of houses. Added to this, is politically motivated action.
Recently, the streets of Mthatha became a battlefield once again, with shops being looted, vehicles being set alight and general chaos. The same happened in the Sunday’s River Valley. In Makana municipality, fed-up residents carried buckets of excrement to the town hall to highlight their unhappiness with the quality of water in the city. In Komga, angry residents burnt down the municipal building.
A wave of protest action is sweeping through the Eastern Cape and the country. This growing lawlessness cannot be allowed to get a stronger grip. It has the potential to plunge us into outright anarchy. Order must be upheld.
The ANC government’s failure to address inequality and service delivery issues is driving up political frustration. Too many people are excluded from economic opportunities.
The violent nature of these protests highlights the desperation to get the government’s attention.
The law enforcement authorities must act against people taking the law into their hands and damaging property.
When the Soccer World Cup was held in South Africa in 2010, there was zero tolerance against lawlessness and criminal behaviour. The culprits were brought speedily to book. The DA calls for the same spirit and the same type of response in our province today.
What the Eastern Cape needs is change that ensures order prevails over chaos; change only a DA-led government can deliver.
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