Johannesburg - Violent protests are not the answer, Co-operative Governance Minister Lechesa Tsenoli said on Wednesday.
“Government's position is clear: that we respect the right of citizens to protest peacefully as enshrined in the Constitution, but violent forms of protest that threaten lives and bring destruction to property are unacceptable,” Tsenoli said in a statement.
He condemned the destruction of property and killings during violent protests. His department was working with government to intervene in all areas affected by service delivery protests. Multi-disciplinary approaches were needed to tackle the causes.
“In order to address the needs of our citizens it is important to strengthen and improve public liaison, consultation and participation with targeted and impactful (sic) campaigns,” Tsenoli said.
People needed to be aware of their rights and responsibilities, as well as the channels available to make their grievances known to authorities. These included suggestion boxes, complaint hotlines, service centres, and public participation events.
“We have heard people's genuine concerns and are working harder to address the issues being raised. However, the message we put forward is that people should engage in a peaceful manner 1/8rather 3/8 than resort to violent protests.”
Tsenoli said government had policies and programmes to speed up service delivery, especially in areas most affected by backlogs. These plans, and problems with implementation, were often not communicated, which left people uninformed and vulnerable. The department was working on improving communication with communities at ward level.