Bid to stop service delivery protests foiled

The Mpumalanga department of corporate governance and traditional affairs announced that it had started interacting with municipalities in a bid to prevent further service delivery protests.

Spokesperson Simphiwe Kunene told Sowetan they would not like to see a repeat of what happened last year when service delivery protests nearly crippled the province's economy.

He said government property, including libraries, clinics, municipal and police vehicles were torched or destroyed by other means.

The protests took place at Thandukukhanya near Piet Retief, Mashishing in Lydenburg, Nkomazi, Daantjie, Ermelo and Balfour. There were protests in another three municipalities this year.

"We had a local government summit in Secunda recently where we met with different stakeholders to develop a turnaround strategy that seeks to deal with issues that created problems in some municipalities in the first place," he said.

Kunene said the summit also looked into issues of financial viability, basic service delivery, management, infrastructure development, traditional leadership, good governance and community participation.

"We have done a diagnosis of the municipalities. As part of implementing turnaround strategies, national and provincial officials, together with sector departments, have already visited the municipalities," Kunene said.

But the department's announcement has angered the Mashishing Activists' Forum that was behind the explosive service delivery protests in Thaba Chweu where Jacob Malakane was shot dead during a clash between police and the community last year.

"This will not work because people have not received any response to their demands delivered in a memorandum last year. Instead the government tells us about promissory strategies," said forum spokesperson, Samora Mlotswa.