South Africa Needs a Mindset Change Toward Service Deliveries

South Africa

South Africa needs a mindset change toward service deliveries as protests continue to increase across the country. Service delivery protests are getting worse, and the vandalism, looting and destruction of property are unacceptable. The government of South Africa condemns the recent action of protestors.

The South African government has failed to supply the necessary infrastructure over the last twenty years, and people are protesting in an attempt for the state to take action. According to protesters, vandalism is the only language the government understands.

Over the past week, a protester was shot dead near a squatter camp, during protests for better living conditions. The people are tired of living in shacks and want the government to build houses. A disgruntled resident in Ennerdale, south of Johannesburg said that there has been no development in the area for the past twenty years. There was no hospital; squatters occupy the illegal stands and drugs are a rising problem. There is no recreation for the children, intermittent electricity and far too frequent water cuts. Enough is enough, the people chant, and vow to continue blocking roads with burning tires in an attempt to get the government to deliver on their pre-election promises.

No formal electricity and limited water and sanitation is still prevalent today in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, a community that has seen little change over the past twenty years. Government housing is random and not fully understood. The real big change over the past twenty years is a criminal justice system the protesters face in an attempt to stop service delivery marches.

The protesters understand the consequences of the damage undertaken during protests and have revealed they are not afraid of the police action. The rubber bullets and tear gas the police use in an attempt to disperse the crowds do not stop the vandalism, looting and damage. The protesters keep going back to the streets with intentions of a peaceful demonstration for better living conditions, but the pattern of intimidation soon turns into a destructive, violent chaos.

Millions of rands worth of damage has incurred over the years from the destruction of the protesters who vandalize, burn and loot during these marches. This week a violent protest took place at a railway station where two vehicles were set alight by angry demonstrators. One person was killed, and another survived severe eye damage during the violent protest. The Railway Agency condemned this action.

The government of South Africa twists this bad story into a good story by broadcasting to the people that service deliveries are real and significant progress has been made over the past twenty years. The government delivers and the people protest, not because of inadequate service deliveries but because there is real progress made. It is the people who have higher expectations.

The right-wingers will be branded as racist for saying the government is failing on service deliveries. The liberals will continue to boast about all the good the government does and ignore the plight of the service delivery failures. The people of South Africa want a better life, have no political agenda and prove that the government is failing.

Two decades of not delivering are indeed a clear indication that the government is incapable of serving the people. Is there a lack of education or is the emotional intelligence within the South African government the cause of the violent protests for better services? The leaders of South Africa are not leading by example and priority of educating the people to understand democracy without corruption is absent.

Perhaps a remark passed by a South African this week epitomizes the failing mindset of service delivery protests in South Africa. “Thank goodness that we can blame everything on apartheid. Otherwise, we would have to take responsibility.”

Opinion by Laura Oneale

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