“We did not just wake up and throw stones, the protest was planned, then police came and started shooting to disperse us,” says Bhayiza Miya, a community activist in Thembelihle, Gauteng. Miya is referring to the community’s 2011 protest, which led to him being arrested five times. During one of these arrests, the 46-year old father was arrested with his five-year old daughter who was kept overnight in a police holding cell with him.
Every year without fail, the release of the Auditor-General results on municipalities and municipal entities is the only time that local government is consistently in the news. We are bombarded with news about the ‘best’ and ‘worst’ performing municipalities, but this is done in a manner that separates municipal financial management from the core business of local government- service delivery.
According to Takudzwa Munyaka, Zimbabweans in city centres are resorting to digging wells for water and even hospitals face a major crisis.
While the major focus has been on economic problems, Zimbabwe has been faced with a severe liquidity crunch, which has led to company closures and massive job loses, a huge humanitarian disaster is emerging. This as the government fails to provide social services, including clean water.
When I went to Bekkersdal in December last year (2013) - to visit the assaulted community and to understand what was driving the slew of violent protests - I came to a realisation. South Africa is burning while our politicians’ navel gaze in self-admiration.
More than once during the course of his address last night, President Jacob Zuma used the word ‘report’ to describe what he was doing. It was, in effect, a synopsis of the government’s efforts over the last five years, with a number of references to the longer period since 1994. Inevitably, it highlighted the successes and achievements, with only the slightest nod to the failures, along the lines of ‘there is still more to be done’. As the leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, said afterwards, it was an election speech.
25 Innovative Solutions Awarded at the Impumelelo Awards Ceremony
On Sunday, 1 December 2013 at the Baxter Theatre, Impumelelo awarded 25 best-practice projects that have found solutions to early childhood development, children affected by foetal alcohol syndrome, innovative water waste treatment works, maths and science education, enterprise development, sexual and domestic violence, youth leadership, and health-care.
While urbanisation has many benefits for a country’s population, it increases the burden on government to provide key social services such as adequate housing and shelter, running water and sanitation. Recent research by the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) shows that the proportion of people living in urban areas increased from 52 percent in 1990 to 62 percent in 2012.
Philosopher and poet, Petrović Njegoš, claimed the immortal maxim that the most sacred of man’s duties is ‘to place a foot upon tyranny’s neck’. Taking this much further, the Brazilian educator-philosopher, Paulo Freire, said that the oppressor’s violence is grounded in the desire to pursue the right to be human and so is not a negation of one’s humanity which is characteristic of how the ruling class governs. But that was the 20th Century and the lessons learned then, was to explore the possibility of peaceful change.
In 2003, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly selected 23 June as the international day of commemorating the value of public service to the community. The UN aptly named it Public Service Day - a day of recognising a competent civil service as one of the foundations of a sound democracy and a successful government. Consequently, pronouncing civil service is nothing less than a human rights issue.
The man who pioneered faeces-dumping protests at government offices has expressed his support for the shack dwellers in Cape Town who have adopted the strategy.
However, Ayanda Kota, founder of the Grahamstown-based civic organisation the Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM), says he is concerned that the fight for better sanitation in informal settlements has been mired in ‘party politics and electioneering’ between the African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) ahead of next year’s general election.