Picture: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA

Pretoria - Ineffective communication, grinding poverty and perceptions of rampant corruption in government and municipalities are the major causes of protests in South African communities, leaving a trail of destruction, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Monday.

"Part of the problem has to do with levels of poverty, unemployment and the fact that people are really having difficulty in coping with life in general. What we have to be one concern is the inability to communicate properly, or where there is a breach of trust ... where people are unhappy with their public representatives and there are allegations of corruption," said Mkhize.

"All of these, we think what is most important is to actually listen to the communities. Explain, communicate effectively with them to be able to communicate the situation with the services that they are looking for. When things are properly explained, most of the communities tend to understand."

Mkhize spoke to journalists in Pretoria, on the sidelines of the 26th Technical Convention of the Association of Municipal Electricity Utilities (AMEU).

The AMEU is an association of municipal electricity distributors as well as national, parastatal, commercial, academic and other organisations that have a direct interest in the electricity supply industry in Southern Africa.  

Mkhize said when allegations of corruption or other malpractices surface, municipalities should not sweep the claims under the carpet, but rather launch transparent investigations.

"Where there are concerns about certain irregularities, prompt investigations need to be undertaken so that the levels of dissatisfaction don't rise to the point where there is the destruction of property," he said.

The minister also cautioned South African communities against destroying infrastructure during protests.

"We do make a call to our people, that they need to use their public representatives like councillors, mayors, municipal offices, and parliamentarians to raise the issues so that the issues can be attended to. I think it's going to be much more useful for our communities to use democratic representation processes to resolve problems rather than resorting to violence," said Mkhize.

"It [violence] does destroy the infrastructure that is already installed, which is really for the benefit of the same communities."

African News Agency (ANA)