Service-delivery protest flares in Standerton

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of several South African townships on Tuesday, demanding improved infrastructure for sanitation, electricity and housing, media reported.

Talk Radio 702 said protesters in the Standerton township of the north-eastern region of Mpumalanga had barricaded roads leading into the township and were marching to the municipal offices, calling for an end to corruption in local government.

SAfm said tensions were running high at Palm Ridge township east of Johannesburg with a heavy police presence after protests turned violent on Monday.

Widespread frustration over poor infrastructure has prompted sporadic protests since elections in April. Dissatisfied people in townships and informal settlements are trying to increase pressure on President Jacob Zuma to meet election pledges to help millions who are still living in poverty 15 years after the end of apartheid.

Zuma has promised to ease inequalities in the biggest economy in Africa but has said the government has fallen short in meeting demands for better basic services like water, electricity, healthcare and education.

After a decade of economic growth, Zuma’s government is grappling with the country’s first recession since 1992 and has said revenue will fall far short of its target by at least R70-billion. Analysts said the recession was making it difficult to improve the lives of the people.

“There was an expectation that things would improve for the working class and for the lower income groups. But this is not happening,” said Nel Marais, political analyst at Executive Research Association.

“The economy is simply not performing well enough to make the living conditions of these people easier. I think under those circumstances it is relatively easy for local leaders to exploit the situation and mobilise the people.” - Reuters

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