Criminal elements 'fuel Gauteng protests'

Community concerns over service delivery were being hijacked by “criminal elements”, fuelling the protests in Gauteng, the provincial government said on Thursday.

“The executive noted that protests in Gauteng were limited to a few isolated areas, that they were instigated by interest groups and that the reasons for them varied depending on the area.

“It was further noted that poor communication with communities and the hijacking of community concerns by criminal elements were some of the factors fuelling these protests,” the provincial government said in a statement following a meeting of its executive council on Wednesday.

The meeting was chaired by Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane.

However, whatever the root of the protests, the executive felt that violence and the destruction of property was unacceptable.

“The executive said it would not allow anarchy to take root in the province and called on the police not to allow illegal marches and to arrest perpetrators of violence irrespective of their standing in the community.”

It urged communities to follow the correct channels in raising their grievances—with their ward committees, through the mayor’s office, the local government and housing department, parliamentary officers and through the Office of the Premier.

The committee also agreed there was a need to strengthen ward committees, improve communication in municipalities and strengthen policing to deal with those responsible for looting and destroying property during the protests.

“ANC understands impact of poor service delivery”
Meanwhile, African National Congress (ANC) spokesperson Jessie Duarte said on Thursday that the ruling party has a “deep understanding” of the impact poor service delivery has on South Africans.

“The ANC has a deep understanding of the seriousness and impact that lack of service delivery has in the lives of the people.

“The ANC, however, strongly condemns all criminal acts in the form of violence against foreign nationals, destruction of state and private property, and looting of shops in some parts of the country under the guise of ‘service delivery protests’,” Duarte said in a statement, adding that government at all levels had put plans in place to address the issues raised.

Duarte said the party was “not impervious to genuine community concerns” and called on its branches to work with civil society to ensure party policies were “well articulated” to the people.

“We have engaged to find solutions to all problems and concerns raised with us by communities during door-to-door campaigns and public gatherings in the run-up to the 2009 elections.”

Direct communication was important, Duarte said, hence the party appreciated the commitment by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Sicelo Shiceka, to visit affected areas where he would listen and find solutions to the concerns raised by communities.—Sapa


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