Debris is strewn in the streets after three days of closure in Mangaung, which has severely affected services and closed schools. Photo: Felix Dlangamandla / Daily Maverick
Poor residents have used city-wide protest action to force the ANC-led provincial government to keep promises of jobs, housing and basic services.
The protests against the closure of Mangaung, organized by a group identified as the affected community of Mangaung, began on Sunday, May 16 when the group gathered various communities on the metro to join the city-wide protest.
Concerned about a lack of provision of services, housing, business and employment opportunities in the metropolitan area, the group wanted the Mangaung council to be dissolved and the city manager to resign. In 2019, the metro was placed under administration after the collapse of service delivery.
Economic activity in the metro was interrupted for two days. Businesses, government buildings and schools were deserted on Monday and Tuesday after major roads were boarded up and closed to prevent residents from traveling to the city for work or other purposes.
As of Tuesday morning, around 15 areas had become part of the protest action, said Kabelo Selogile, a committee member of Mangaung Community Concern.
For the many poor residents, the protest was an opportunity to express their frustrations with the ANC-led Free State government.
“When you are poor in South Africa, the only way to get politicians to hear our concerns as communities is to protest,” said a resident of the informal settlement of Gatvol during protests over service delivery to Mangaung. “Gatvol” means totally fed up / had had enough in English.
According to Monitoring of public violence and protests by the Institute for Security Studies, Frustration over service delivery failures led to 585 incidents of public protest between January 2013 and April 2021, of which 378 (65%) turned violent.
On Monday, May 17, the Mangaung protests turned violent and the death of a teenager, Jevano Siegel, further outraged residents.
A city official’s car was set on fire after he was allegedly pulled over and thrown out of it for trying to get to work during the shutdown. On Monday evening, residents alleged that criminals hijacked the service delivery center and began looting shops owned by foreigners.
Over the years, the majority of protests for service delivery in the country have been marked by unusually high levels of violence and vandalism as people express their anger and frustrations at the inability of the local government to s ‘discharge one’s duty – provide basic services.
Xenophobic attacks on foreigners and their businesses are fueled by the mistaken perception that foreigners reduce economic opportunities for South Africans.
however, the legitimacy of the right to protest does not justify public violence.
Free State Police spokesman Brigadier Motantsi Makhele said police arrested 70 people for public violence and looting during the protests. Meanwhile, 13 stores owned by foreigners were looted, vandalized and set on fire.
When Daily Maverick on Wednesday revisited a bottle store owned by foreigners, which had been looted the day before it had been set on fire.
Decrease in service delivery
The provincial government has been accused of corruption and of having leaders who serve their interests and not those of the public.
The province and some of its current and past leaders have been implicated in corruption scandals that have marked the province and its economic outlook.
The Free State is teeming with unfinished development projects and vandalized and abandoned government buildings. Raw sewage flows through the streets of many townships, even in the CBD of Bloemfontein.
Many of these projects started under the administration of then Prime Minister Ace Magashule, who now faces corruption and money laundering allegations involving a multi-million Rand asbestos contract.
A Daily Maverick investigation revealed how Magashule’s eight-year tenure as prime minister left a legacy littered with failed, incomplete or stagnant projects and developments.
With the upcoming local elections in 2021, many residents fear their vulnerabilities will be exploited when politicians campaign for votes.
“When they want our votes, they promise us the world,” said one resident, Pakiso Manamathela.
He said none of the promises made in the 2016 local elections were kept. These included the installation of temporary sanitation facilities for the informal settlement and ultimately the relocation of its residents to better accommodation in 2017.
StatsSA’s non-financial municipal census for the year ending June 30, 2019 showed that the number of communities using the municipal-provided bucket system has increased in the Free State.
The municipality of Nketoana recorded the largest percentage increase.
Almost half of all consumer units that use municipality-provided bucket toilets in South Africa are in the Free State, according to StatsSA.
Eleven municipalities in the province provided pail toilets to a total of 20,688 consumer units.
The number of communities in the province benefiting from free basic water services decreased significantly by 9,871 consumption units in 2019.
The Free State has the second unemployment rate in the country at 42.6%.
One of the demands of the affected community of Mangaung is that the 3,600 fully funded vacancies be filled immediately after they were allegedly frozen when rumors began to circulate that people aligned with a particular ANC faction in the area. the metro had the preference for these jobs.
The results of the Auditor General’s local government audit for 2018/19 gave the metro a qualified audit opinion, which means that its financial statements contained material misstatements for specific amounts or that it did not. There was not enough evidence to conclude that specific amounts included in the financial statements were not significantly inaccurate. . DM
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This notice was published: 2021-05-21 11:34:16