WCape hit hardest in SA by protests

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Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille will rename NY1 on Heritage Day as the public participation process to change 91 street names and eight hoods in Gugulethu is launched. File Photo: David Ritchie

New reseach shows the Western Cape - where the DA-led government has accused the ANC of stoking violence - had nearly a quarter of all protests in the country this year.

Now the ANC provincial executive committee is calling for restraint and asking community leaders to discourage violence.

The research, by Municipal IQ, showed protests were on the increase across the country, with 113 so far this year, compared to a low of two in 2006. This year also accounted for 22 percent of all protests recorded since January 2004.

Karen Heese, an economist at Municipal IQ, said “the trend of violent protests remains a key concern”, with 88 percent of protests last month turning violent.

Almost half the protests last month (46 percent) took place in informal settlements, and Heese said this highlighted “the desperation of these communities living on the margins of local economies during the bitter winter months”.

The research, “The Hotspots Monitor: major protests staged by community members against a municipality”, said protests were mostly to do with “perceived responsibility of local government such as councillor accountability, the quality and pace of basic service delivery, and, in metro areas, housing”.

Heese said the Western Cape remained “the most protest-afflicted province in 2012”, followed by the Free State.

The Western Cape accounted for 24 percent of protests, followed by the Free State at 14 percent.

KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo had the lowest number of protests, both accounting for just 6 percent of the national figure.

“Political and community leaders should try to channel community grievances constructively to avoid the violence and destruction that has typified protests during 2012,” said Heese.

The ANC has echoed this call, with provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile calling for restraint.

“The provincial executive committee calls on community leaders to discourage violence and damage associated with service delivery protests, as this gives room to opportunistic elements who try to demonise legitimate demands,” said Mjongile, referring to the DA’s accusation that the ANC was responsible for the wave of violent protests in the Western Cape.

Premier Helen Zille and Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille have gone as far as filing criminal charges against the party.

However, Mjongile laid responsibility for community anger at the door of the DA.

“The ANC calls on the provincial and metro governments to give the same attention to issues raised by the communities in the same way that it does to people in the leafy suburbs,” said Mjongile.

United Democratic Movement president Bantu Holomisa also waded into the debate, saying the recent flurry of service delivery protests in the Western Cape showed people were losing patience with the “failure of most municipalities to provide even the most basic services”.

Holomisa said these communities “continue to receive just a tiny fraction of budget allocations, even though they have the highest service delivery and infrastructure development backlogs”. - The Star


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