‘Let’s focus on making world cup a success, not violent service delivery protests,’ MEC Lekgoro urges Gauteng communities
11 Mar 2010
The resurgence of violent service delivery protests that have engulfed Gauteng and its municipalities are over shadowing the great opportunities that will be brought by the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup.
With less than 100 days left before the world’s soccer showpiece, the first to be hosted on African soil and in South Africa, with Gauteng going to host most of the games. Local Government and Housing MEC, Kgaogelo Lekgoro, has called for communities to channel their energies in making the World Cup a success.
“The violence that accompanies these protests cannot be accepted as we believe that they will derail the progress of staging a successful world cup. It is the public’s rights to demonstrate as protests are part and parcel of public democracy and deepening democracy. However, the violence and anarchy cannot be tolerated.
“We understand the concerns raised by communities and urge them to be patient and understand that Rome was not built in one day. Equally so, we acknowledge that much progress has been done in the provision of houses, ensuring that municipalities function optimally, and we have identified the challenges we face. Working together with our municipalities, we are putting plans to deal with service delivery backlogs,” Lekgoro said.
He said that although most of the grievances raised by communities were genuine, there were however; instances where other interest groups were determined to render municipalities, mayors, members of the mayoral committees and municipal managers, redundant due to political and personal reasons.
“While communities have a right to engage in protests to express their dissatisfaction, this has to be done in a lawful manner and without infringing on other people’s rights. Those who engage in criminal activities will be dealt with according to the law.
‘It is the communities’ right to protest but when it is done with ulterior motives of removing elected leadership, it cannot be right. We cannot condone such situations like in some areas where protests are being used as a political tool to remove legitimately elected councillors. In some instances, councillors, ward committees, regional heads, projects, managers, municipal officials, officials from the department invite members of the communities to brief them about the plans, progress and challenges government is facing,’ he said.
We also have deployed community development workers, community liaison officers, and health workers, care givers, among others, to work with communities and assist in addressing service delivery challenges.
Lekgoro further said: “The recent protests that erupted in the various parts of the province have underlying circumstances and there is no doubt that some disgruntled political individuals and groups are using ordinary citizens for their own political benefit and advancing their own agenda through the use of mass protests leading up to the local government election (next year). Our efforts therefore will be dedicated towards improving communication as well as consultation with all stakeholders at local level.
“The fact is, we are slowly but surely recovering from the recession but as Gauteng we have made it a point that we focus on the bigger projects such as the world cup and Gautrain. As it has been said by FIFA President Sepp Blatter, the world cup will leave a lasting legacy. Therefore we cannot allow a situation where communities vandalise property, burn libraries, and form illegal barricades with tyres on the very same road that is a link to the community activity and put other people’s lives in danger.
“It is rather surprising that despite developments taking place; people would resort to acts of violence and disruption. It is clear that there are elements hell-bent to undermine the work government are doing to change the lives of the poor. We will, however, not allow anyone to frustrate our efforts to uplift the living standard of our people,” said Lekgoro.
“On behalf of the Gauteng executive council and executive mayors, I humbly appeal to communities to cease from violent protests. As government, we have an open office and I urge communities with grievances to use correct channels,” Lekgoro said.
The assurance that we give our people is that if delivery has not happened in your area, it will soon happen as it did in other areas where people waited patiently. We are also coming to your community. What we humbly ask from our people is cooperation and understanding as we strive to deliver on our mandate. Above all, it is also the responsibility of the law abiding citizens to protect and preserve the assets provided by the state.
For more information contact:
Cell: 082 490 9869
Cell: 082 447 8407
Issued by: Department of Local Government and Housing, Gauteng Provincial Government
11 March 2010
Source: Gauteng Provincial Government (http://www.gautengonline.gov.za/)
Issued by: Gauteng Local Government and Housing
11 Mar 2010
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