Protests result from high expectations brought on by freedom and democracy, writes ERIC NAKI

The euphoria that characterised the country's first decade of our freedom and democracy has not been a bed of roses for the ruling ANC government.

It is in the nature of all revolutionary movements that new leaders will be afforded time to get to grips with the challenges of governance and to level the playing fields for delivery.

Then the second decade becomes the "people's decade" as citizens will demand to see the fruits of their freedom.

Wise leaders will always make sure that by the start of the second decade, a lot would have changed in the people's lives.

Such leaders would anticipate the period when revolutionaries and heroes are turned into villains and to start to deal seriously with the high expectations brought about by the same freedom and democracy for which they fought.

The flurry of pro-service delivery protests that marked the current first half of the second decade, should be a wake-up call to the ANC that the euphoria is over and people want nothing less than what was promised in the last three elections.

The past two years especially saw unprecedented countrywide service delivery protests, accompanied by violent attacks against councillors and the torching of property in parts of Free State and Gauteng.

The demands were common and mainly about houses, roads, access to water, sanitation and electricity

According to the DA, approximately 5000 protests took place in the past year - the highest figure in the world.

A recent TNS Research Surveys showed that unhappiness over service delivery is intensifying in Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West and this is leading to an increased likelihood of instability in these provinces as a result of protest actions.

If, as the study found, a third of black and coloured residents in the rich Gauteng metro areas are unhappy with service delivery and 44percent of blacks in Gauteng towns were dissatisfied, how much more in the poorer provinces?

In Parliament recently President Thabo Mbeki downplayed the extent of the protests saying it was "not the entire communities".

He appointed a cabinet committee to investigate their causes. Sooner or later the government will realise these actions are here to stay.

Mbeki knows, and whoever takes over from him in 2009 will be forced to come to terms with the harsh reality that nobody is going to occupy the Union Buildings and continue as if it's business as usual.

The situation has forced a sober rethink and ushering in of an integrated delivery strategy to expedite services to the people.

"An integrated approach to development is the key to better service delivery at all levels of government," said Frank Chikane, director-general in the Presidency.

Chikane unveiled the plan at a seminar attended by MPLs, senior government and municipal officials and representatives of civil societygroups, organised by the Gauteng Legislature last Friday.

He said gone were the days when the national treasury dictated terms on development.

The new set-up would see a medium-term strategy framework taking precedence over treasury's medium-term expenditure framework, which will only supplement strategy.

In his presentation, Chikane examined the international evolution of integrated governance concepts and contrasted the Western and African trajectories of governance.

He highlighted how the West galloped far ahead in modernising governance while Africa lagged behind, entrapped in colonialism and slavery.

The continent was trying to recover from the devastating effects of the structural adjustments programmes imposed by the West through the IMF and World Bank.

The end of the Cold War helped Africa find its feet with the African Renaissance and the Nepad initiatives to determine its own destiny.

South Africa's national democratic revolution and the subsequent cutting-edge democratic constitution, which entrenched principles of good governance and and individual and socio-economic rights, helped level the playing fields.

He said the country's integrated approach came as a result of lessons learnt from fragmented service delivery systems and societal inequalities, duplications and the need for participation, consultation and internal and external scrutiny of service delivery.

He conceded that "revolutionary minds" geared for change and constitutional requirements also necessitated this approach.

"Concrete unjust material conditions created by the apartheid system compelled the post- apartheid democratic government to develop an integrated system of governance as part of the transformation project to ensure equitable, effective and efficient service delivery to all South Africans," said Chikane.

He said the government was also forced to strategise, develop policies, plan, budget and implement in an integrated way.

"This naturally led to the deve- lopment of an integrated planning framework and monitoring and evaluation system currently under development," he said.

Chikane said lack of an integrated approach to delivery resulted in one hospital going without hot water for three months because a geyser was broken.

He said the presidency had to intervene and the problem was solved within two weeks.

"Most of the time it is not that there is no money, but that officials do not do their jobs.

"The system fails our people and we need to fix the system," said Chikane.