Dialogue examines service delivery and violent protests in North West
The North-West University (NWU) hosted a successful online dialogue on 11 September 2020 during which issues on service delivery and violent protests in the North West province were discussed.
Dialogue participants included NWU academics in the field of public administration, representatives from the Department of Community Safety and Transport Management in the North West province, as well as the Office of the Premier.
The panelists included Prof Mello David Mbati, Dr Salphinah Vuloyimuni Ubisi and Dr Lusanda B Juta from the NWU, Dr Maletse Kiddo Mako. director in the Office of the Premier, Ms Nikiwe Julia Num, chief director of the Department of Community Safety and Transport Management, and major-general Gopolang Patrick Asaneng, the deputy-provincial commissioner for policing in the North West province.
Prof Mello spoke about the rights and obligations of citizens, and said that as much as citizens have the right to protest, they are also obligated to ensure that their protests remain peaceful.
“If protests are not managed, we end up moving three steps forward and two steps backward, destroying government infrastructure. In the end these citizens will also be footing the bill,” said Prof Mello.
He advised that communities should consider using petitions instead of public protests to hold the government accountable.
He further alluded to the fact that the politicians and government officials – as citizen guardians – have an obligation to ensure every cent collected through tax is accounted for and that these funds are used for the benefit of the public.
“Politicians should also be wary of what they promise during elections, as broken promises are often the cause of service delivery protests.”
Ms Num from the Department of Community Safety and Transport Management said protests place a burden on police.
“As society leaders, politicians need to take ownership of their responsibilities and ensure that administrators do what they are supposed to do - placing communities at the centre of participation and creating a culture of service delivery,” she said.
She added that systems must be in place to ensure that consequence management is realised.
“People in government positions should take their responsibilities seriously and know that they will be held accountable. There is a dire need for a culture of honesty and service.”
Dr Mako from the Office of the Premier explained that they are tasked to monitor municipalities in the execution of their service delivery plans.
“To bring an end to service delivery protests that lead to the destruction of property, the Office of the Premier is continuously engaging with municipalities since they are responsible for delivering services to the community.”
Major-general Asaneng said their responsibility as the South African Police Service is to fight crime, maintain public order, and to protect all citizens and their property.
“It is worrisome that people exercise their right to services by resorting to violence,” he added.
He also shared that, according to SAPS analysis, most of the violent protests in the province mainly involve young people.
“Young people often participate in violent protests, destroying essential and limited infrastructure, which does not resolve the problem.
“We believe that consequence management and a political will to deal with these issues will be the answer to resolving problems with service delivery and violent protests,” said major-general Asaneng.