Tuesday, 03 July 2007

Non-performance = violence and murder?

Over the past 13 years millions of previously disadvantaged South Africans have been promised access to basic services. In some areas the ANC government has done remarkably well and people's lives have been changed for the better. The sad reality is that there are still millions for whom access to clean drinking water, flush toilets, electricity and safe housing is nothing more than a pipe-dream.

It is hardly surprising then when communities become angry with local councillors and other local government officials around the issue of service delivery (or non-delivery rather). This anger boiled over to the most extreme political violence seen since the days of the apartheid struggle when a mob killed an ANC councillor in Deneysville in the Free State yesterday.

The crowd was protesting the slow delivery of housing in the area and had set up a meeting with the mayor of Metsimaholo and other local councillors. These fat cats then decided not to show up at the pre-arranged time. Their non-arrival obviously angered the residents who then marched to local councillor Morris Mokoena's home. When he arrived home they attacked him, stoned him and butchered him with an axe to his face. He later died of his injuries.

This act of violence can in no way be condoned. Killing another human being is inexcusable. That said, is there not perhaps place to begin to consider what provokes people to reach a place where that seems like the only way for their voice to be heard? Is that democracy?

The Mayor refused to comment on the incident - how's that for leadership? Imagine Rudy Giuliani refusing to comment after the 9/11 attacks until he had read a report or two!

Non-delivery of basic services and housing and the continual reports of jobs-for-pals is quickly becoming the Achilles heel of the post-apartheid government in South Africa. Recent riots in Parys, Wolmaranstad and other areas of the country show that there is increasing dissatisfaction amongst the electorate. There is no-quick fix but the people must see decisive action being taken by those in senior positions in government. In fact it is time Thabo Mbeki was seen taking decisive action against those who hold back the pace of progress and whose incompetence continues to hurt those who voted them into power.

The bigger picture is of course much more complicated than space on this blog will allow but one thing is clear from these events - as much as we abhor the violence associated with political demonstration, it may be exactly this that brings about the much needed action from those in power. Party loyalty lies deep with those for whom the ANC was a party of liberation from the shackles of apartheid. I wonder for how many years the ANC government will be able to rely on that loyalty before the dissatisfaction currently playing out on the streets of our towns becomes dissatisfaction shown at the polling booth.

1 comment:

fuelforthought said...

We can no longer ignore the fact that money is budgeted for housing on an annual basis, yet the houses seem to remain tin sheets with no warmth and no basic services. The question then is ... where does the money go after its been allocated in the budget? People in this country have a right to be dissatisfied with the cold, wet, and unhygenic living standards they are being forced to endure. As for murder ... violence is not the answer but imagine the amount of anguish people have to deal with on a daily basis when they see their neighbours, friends and family dying of the harsh conditions forced on them.