Systemic approach to service delivery protests in South Africa


President Cyril Ramaphosa says government has adopted a multi-disciplinary and systemic approach to tackle service delivery protests.

The President said this when fielding oral questions in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

United Democratic Movement (UDM) President Bantu Holomisa asked whether, with the recurrence of violent service delivery protests, where anger is directed at the local sphere, he had any plans to co-ordinate government machinery to visit affected communities and present detailed responses to concerns.
“If we are to effectively address the causes of community protests and improv conditions under which people in these communities live, it is necessary to proceed in a systematic manner.
“It is necessary to ensure inter-governmental alignment since the issues cut across national, provincial and local competencies.
“At the same time, it is necessary for public representatives – including MPs and Ministers – to engage with communities on an ongoing basis to ensure their needs and concerns are addressed,” he said.

The President said there were several reasons sparking community protests – ranging from local service delivery failures to broader concerns around crime, municipal demarcation, corruption and failure of governance.

Most protests – peaceful and those that turn violent – reflect severe weaknesses in local governance, poor consultation with communities and a perceived distance between communities and their public representatives at all levels.
“It is necessary to address the causes of these protests in an integrated and comprehensive manner.
“This is why national government is working with provincial and local government to improve delivery of services, build and maintain municipal infrastructure and strengthen financial and other areas of governance.”

President Ramaphosa said to ensure a systematic response to the causes of violent protests government has established an inter-ministerial task team on service delivery integration and alignment.

The team includes ministries that impact on local government.

He said the inter-ministerial task team adopted an approach to enhance integrated planning budgeting and implementation of service delivery programmes in 57 municipalities.
“These include the eight metropolitan municipalities, 43 local municipalities and six priority district municipalities.
“Together, these municipalities account for over 87% of all households living in informal settlements or backyard dwellings.
“They also constitute over half of all service delivery backlogs and have the greatest number of recorded service delivery protests.
“A set of strategies and action plans are being developed to focus on the short, medium and long-term interventions in these 57 pilot municipalities.”

The work of the Inter-Ministerial Task Team is supported by a programme management office located at the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA).

This office draws directly on the MISA technical team of professional engineers and planners, as well as professionals from national and provincial sector departments.