Survey shows 2011 quiet year for service protests

Service Delivery protest in Cape Town. Photo: Sam Clark.

Service Delivery protest in Cape Town. Photo: Sam Clark.

Published May 20, 2011

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Municipal elections appear to have had a dampening impact on service delivery protests, according to research by Municipal IQ, which carries out a Municipal Hotspots Monitor. As reported by the Local Government Research Centre’s Clive Keegan, in terms of service delivery protests, 2011 has been a relatively quiet year when compared with 2009 and 2010.

The local government intelligence service and local government data collected by Keegan show that despite a number of high-profile protests – like those staged in Zandspruit and Ficksburg – South Africans were “waiting to vote to ensure change in local government leadership or policy”.

Zandspruit, an informal settlement in Honeydew, north of Johannesburg, saw scores of service delivery protesters being arrested for public violence in March. At Ficksburg in the Free State, Andries Tatane, a Cope council candidate and teacher, was killed during similar protests.

The Municipal Hotspots Monitor records major protests by community members against a municipality 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 housing.

“These protests may be violent or peaceful, but there is a clear dissatisfaction with the management of a council,” Keegan noted. Not included in the data are issues such as demarcation, industrial relations disputes or clear party political spats.

Municipal IQ reported that there were 10 protests in 2004. This jumped to 34 in 2005, dropped to just two in the last municipal election year in 2006, rose again to 32 in 2007, dropped slightly to 27 in 2008, but jumped steeply to 105 in 2009 and to 111 in 2010. There have been 23 so far this year.

Keegan warns that promises will need to be implemented if protests “are to be contained over the rest of the year”.

Software piracy

Software giant Microsoft’s South African arm is taking a personal interest in tackling piracy and is launching a civil case against a Port Elizabeth computer shop owner who has twice been found on the wrong side of the law.

The unnamed business owner is accused of selling unlicensed and counterfeit software to unsuspecting customers, including changing the CK numbers (company registration numbers) of company invoices. A criminal trial is pending.

The counterfeit goods were reportedly packaged to resemble genuine products and included counterfeit CDs with simulated holograms and counterfeit certificates of authenticity. This story is one of many that the local authorities are attempting to put a lid on.

At a convention in April on reducing software piracy, the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) revealed that in the past financial year it had seized counterfeit goods with a street value of R696 million.

This figure reduces the Counterfeit Goods Act and the Copyright Act, established to protect local intellectual property, to a toothless canine. Enforcing these regulations is hampered by capacity and the need for training, according to the dti.

Locally, Operation ThengaEyakho, which is led by Microsoft, focuses on intellectual property rights and software-specific anti-piracy messages to the youth.

The International Chamber of Commerce this year commissioned a study that forecast that in four years, the global impact of counterfeiting and piracy would have reached $1.7 trillion (R11.8 trillion) and put 2.5 million legitimate jobs at risk annually. Who can forget the embarrassment the producers of the home-grown oscar-winning movie Tsotsi suffered nearly six years ago when the movie became available before it was due for theatrical release in South Africa. Yet another study by Business Software Alliance says a reduction in the worldwide piracy rate by 10 percentage points in four years would create $142bn in new economic activity and add nearly 500 000 new hi-tech jobs around the world.

Women greener

Synovate, the market research arm of the Aegis Group, released results of a survey on green habits earlier this month. Among its main findings was that women around the world are a little bit greener than men, while older consumers are more environmentally conscious overall.

The survey compared the answers of 22 000 people, among them 600 South Africans, from major metropolitan areas. The gender differential rang true in South Africa too, with 47 percent of South African women respondents saying they had recycled waste at home within the past week compared with 40 percent of men. The combined average was lower than the survey’s global recycling average of 51 percent.

Across both genders, South Africans scored 17th out of a pool of respondents from 28 countries for recycling waste. South Africa’s worst ranking was for the purchase of ecological products (20th place), while it was ranked higher for the purchase of organic products (9th place).

Richard Rice, Synovate sales and marketing director, said correlation of green habits was linked to availability. “For example, South Africa is quite good at buying organic but could do better at recycling,” he said. “That’s because they don’t have a good system for collecting recyclables.”

South African consumers who do recycle, typically have to be proactive about it, often transporting their waste to the closest grocery store that houses recycling containers managed by external parties.

An arrangement between Pick n Pay and French battery group Uniross was launched last year after a successful pilot project. The parties said this week that they had collected nearly 18 tons of batteries since last year, the majority of which were non-rechargeable alkaline batteries.

This has filled a gap where municipal recycling has failed, but the batteries collected are only a fraction of the estimated 30 000 tons of batteries disposed of in South African landfills each year.

Edited by Ellis Mnyandu. With contributions by Donwald Pressly, Asha Speckman and Ingi Salgado.

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