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Coherent strategy needed to deal with community frustration: Municipal IQ

Gauteng, with 30% of all protests in the country, is the most prominent, as it has been historically. It is followed by the Eastern Cape with 19% and KZN with 18%, according to Municipal IQ.
Gauteng, with 30% of all protests in the country, is the most prominent, as it has been historically. It is followed by the Eastern Cape with 19% and KZN with 18%, according to Municipal IQ.
Image: Crime Air Network via Twitter

This week's protest in Thembisa — one of many such protests over the past two months — shows the unhappiness in many communities.

Municipal IQ said after the decrease in protests in 2020 and 2021, when public gatherings were banned due to the Covid lockdown, service delivery protests have increased in number and intensity this year.

“Protests have increased significantly in 2022 and at the current rate may well reach the record numbers seen before Covid in 2018 and 2019. This shows the artificial dampening effect of Covid on protest activity and that nothing fundamental has changed in protest-prone communities,” said MD Kevin Allan.

“It is very worrying that in the past two months, monthly protest numbers have increased to levels last seen more than two years ago.

“While Municipal IQ’s historical data on protests shows protest activity often increases in winter,  this is a big jump and an ominous sign that protest activity is probably set to continue across the country for the rest of the year.”

Gauteng, with 30% of all service delivery protests this year, is the most prominent, as it has been historically. It is followed by the Eastern Cape with 19% and KwaZulu-Natal with 18%.

Allan expressed frustration with the government’s response to protests, particularly the one in Thembisa this week, and scepticism with the assertion by some government officials that it was politically orchestrated.

“Municipal IQ has recorded eight major protests in Ekurhuleni over the past year, including four in Thembisa, but all spheres of government seem to have been taken by surprise by the violence of the last protest. Surely government would anticipate that if the community of Thembisa were ignored in the first three protests, the fourth would be an escalation and have a number of negative outcomes.”

A coherent strategy by all spheres of government was needed to deal proactively with community frustration in protest-prone communities, he said.

Municipal IQ’s hotspots monitor databases protests by communities over issues that are the responsibility or perceived responsibility of local government, such as councillor accountability, the quality and pace of basic service delivery, and in metro areas, housing.

Not included are issues falling outside local government’s service delivery mandate, such as demarcation, industrial relations disputes or clear party political issues, including candidate lists.

TimesLIVE


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