In a country where unemployment is high and poverty is rampant, the people get frustrated and when frustration increases it is difficult to control and postpone anger...People may be exercising their right to access quality services as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, but service delivery protests usually take the country many steps backwards.
I am saying this because property is vandalised in the process and that the local economies are negatively affected as small and medium-sized enterprises are often looted, schooling and health services are disrupted, etc. Based on that, I expected the Minister of Finance in his budget speech to have placed much emphasis on policy imperatives and actions around Service Delivery Mechanism, especially within municipalities.
We do acknowledge that the Honourable President of the country, Jacob Zuma, in his State of the Nation address, observed that the community protests are a sign that the people want government to quicken the pace of delivery of housing, water and sanitation. The Minister indicated that over the next three years, national government will allocate R105 billion to municipalities for free basic water, sanitation, electricity and refuse removal services, but the concern of the community is not only about the budget not being enough, there is more to this situation.
I agree with the Minister of Finance when he said that, “Service delivery must be enhanced and supported by the necessary infrastructure.” To my understanding that necessary infrastructure should be outlined in the Service Delivery Mechanism, which should be inclusive of all stakeholders. In many cases you find non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community-based organisations (CBOs) and faith-based organisations (FBOs) being left out in this kind of processes, forgetting that these are structures that are within the communities and are influential when it comes to service delivery.
The situation does not only negatively impact on our economy but also on the entire country’s development agenda. As much as the process of Service Delivery Mechanism is underway, I would also recommend that we also encourage and support service delivery consultations with communities and NGOs which can play a bigger role on that part. This will ensure that we all take ownership of what is happening on the ground.
This brings me to one area of concern from many NGOs, CBOs and FBOs: the feeling is that we do not feature anyway in the budget speech of our beloved country. This is so because, the occurrences in relation to challenges our economy is facing or any programme implementations, makes it difficult to see where the government acknowledge or observe the role that the NGOs, CBOs and FBOs can play. The role that the NGOs are playing in the development of our communities needs to be supported and acknowledged. It is within our interest that in the near future we should see the Minister of Finance outlining the financing and budget for civil society in the country. This will require that government, working together with NGOs, develop a financing and funding model for the South African NGOs. This will enable the government and NGOs to work together in the implementation of our country’s development agenda. As it is always said “working together we can do more.”
We observed and feel encouraged by the business tax relief that has been announced by the minister. We believe that tax Incentives should be there to encourage job creation and we believe that this is done in a mission of encouraging and allowing businesses to contribute to job creation as one of the central priorities in the National Development Plan. This, however, also suggests to us that we need to have mechanisms in place to examine initiatives performance and value-for-money for this approach. It is the responsibility of the whole sector, including the NGOs to ensure that we all contribute to the employment of our people.
The bottom line is, the government and the NGOs need to find each other. The NGO sector needs to bring back their active participation in the business of this country, and the government needs to encourage and support active participation of the NGOs.