27 June, 2014

Poor service delivery: A ticking time bomb for the worst...By Mailula Refilwe

As South Africa celebrates 20 years of democracy, many communities countrywide are still without proper sanitation, access to water or a decent place to live. This has resulted in a rise in violent service delivery protest in recent years.

One may ask, if municipalities are battling to cope with growing demand for services? Or are corruption and maladministration and lack of skills in the local government crippling service delivery? Does it have to cost an arm or a leg for service to be delivered to the people?

Hundreds of communities across South Africa are angry and frustrated over the delayed service delivery and thus results in violent protest. With an endless list of grievances about lack of services, nepotism in municipalities and corruption, the governments’ achievements have been forgotten.

To make matters worse, over the past five years, a number of municipal officials have been arrested countrywide, for crimes ranging from financial mismanagement to tender fraud.

However, according to the office of Performance Management and Presidency, set up on 1 January 2010 to monitor the impact of government policies on the population, since 1994, the government has delivered:

·       New homes built- 2.5 million homes housing ten million people
·       Households with electricity- over 80% today from 32% in 1994
·       Households with access to drinking water- almost 100% from 60% in 1994
·       Households with access to sanitation- 63% from 49% in 1994
·       Households with access to regular refuse remove- 64% from 50% in 1994

Although statistics proves that ANC-led government has delivered service to the people. The former Minister of Human Settlement Tokyo Sexwale said that 134,000 of the houses built under government programmes are collapsing and need urgent repair.

In November 2010, he said his department would spend about R2 billion to repair those houses and in May this year told The Sowetan newspaper a further 400 million would be needed. And if “portable water” is supplied to almost 100% of households, some 264 out of 283 water purification schemes in the country have severe maintenance backlogs which will cost R10 billion to fix.

President Jacob Zuma said that the government had out performed every country in the world over the past 20 years in delivery services to its citizens. Indeed the ANC-led government has certainly outperformed some government in delivering public services to its people- but not all governments worldwide.

Should towns like Ermelo in Mpumalanga, were residents are angry and have been protesting against poor service delivery for years, claiming their pleas have fallen on deaf ears, embrace these sentiments?

Is violent protest the only way to push the government to deliver service to its people?
If only our government officials would stop being self-serving, be neglectful of their needs for self-riches and honestly serve their people without greed, maybe the 43 lives lost in service delivery protest  from 2004 and 2014 will not be in vain. 

Unfortunately, we live in a country where the President’s homestead comes first before people’s needs.

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