Remember how ANC treated your service delivery pleas, UDM warns voters

Picture: Chris Collingridge 261

Picture: Chris Collingridge 261

Published Apr 23, 2024


THE United Democratic Movement (UDM) has called on voters to remember the message loud and clear: how the ANC had responded to their service delivery demands the entire time in-between elections -- through rubber bullets.

As the national and provincial general elections draw nearer, parties contesting seats have urged voters not to forget how the governing party had responded to their demands over the years.

Yongama Zigebe, secretary-general for UDM, said on Tuesday that while the country’s history was marked by tragic massacres stemming from protests for human rights, service delivery protests had become a frequent occurrence in South Africa, particularly in under-served communities.

Zigebe said in current day South Africa, protests often resulted in the destruction of infrastructure and property, causing significant harm to the economy.

Protests, he said, had also escalated in frequency and violence, drawing large crowds, primarily composed of the disaffected and unemployed youth. In some instances they were being exploited by political opportunists seeking to advance their own agendas or undermine rival factions.

“The fragility of our society is evident, with the potential for any one of these protests to spiral out of control. Not only that, instead of the government responding with open ears, they respond with opening fire, and letting the rubber bullets fly.

“Service delivery protests often stem from deep-seated grievances related to inadequate access to basic services such as water, sanitation, housing, and electricity. However, they are symptomatic of broader issues of social inequality and marginalisation, particularly in historically disadvantaged communities.”

Zigebe said the underhanded response by the government had also been labelled as “intolerable” by Amnesty International South Africa just last month. This was after the SAPS Public Order Police (POP) had allegedly employed a disproportionate response and intimidation tactics in response to a peaceful protest outside Standard Bank headquarters in Johannesburg.

POP officials had reportedly used “heavy-handed” tactics against several people from Extinction Rebellion who organised a sit-in in front of the parking entrances to demand the bank refrain from funding new coal projects.

Most recently, on April 19, a group of individuals reportedly entered the premises of Tosca Primary School in the North West and set fire to seven classrooms, school furniture, files, and textbooks.

Earlier that week, the Department of Labour had closed a block of three classrooms, citing concerns about their suitability for teaching and learning. However, in response, community members proceeded to close down the entire school, and a few days later, the classrooms were deliberately set ablaze.

Zigebe said while the government had in principle been correct to urge people not to destroy crucial educational infrastructure, the incident had resulted because of their inattentiveness.

“Ruling party politicians and government officials should not act all surprised and indignant when people act in violence.

“It is their inattentiveness which taught people to act in this manner. How else does one get the attention of a government that does not listen and respond to the needs of its people.”

He said the UDM held the view that the answer to the challenges lay in addressing the root causes of service delivery protests through a multi-faceted approach that encompassed meaningful dialogue, community engagement, and evidence-based policy interventions.

“South African voters should get the message loud and clear: the ANC ignores you for the entire time in-between elections.

“But come election time, all of a sudden load shedding miraculously disappears, there is a rollout of a massive job creation scheme, and schools, hospitals and police stations are officially handed over to communities.

“Meanwhile, the country sits with a massive water crisis, it is running broke, has an immigration problem, our people are held hostage by criminals, women are raped daily, and so the list goes.

“Why vote for the Always Nurturing Corruption party if this is the way they treat you 24/7, 365 days a year, aside from the three months they campaign before elections?” he asked.

The Star