Minister to receive report on service delivery protests

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pretoria - Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sicelo Shiceka, is visiting Mpumalanga this morning, to assess the situation on the ground and get a report from a Task Team that was set up in response to recent service delivery protests.

Last Friday, a high level delegation of department officials was dispatched to investigate the concerns of the community and devise a turn-around strategy in response to the issues raised.

Ministerial Liaison Officer, Vuyelwa Qinga Vika, on Thursday confirmed to BuaNews that Mr Shiceka was on his way to Mpumalanga to receive a report from the task team. The department was expected to release a statement on the visit, later in the day.

The country has been rocked by service delivery protests in recent weeks.

Minister Shiceka, in an interview with 702 Talk Radio on Thursday, said the displeasure shown by communities could be attributed to the poor communication by local government to the people.

"Ward councillors in certain areas are not reporting to the people, while municipalities' are not really doing what they are supposed to be doing in terms of communicating with people."

He said the structures that were established by government for communication seemed to be weak.

Mr Shiceka said the disenchantment felt by communities could be attributed to them waiting for services for 15 years. He said by protesting, they were in a way pushing government to deliver.

"What is good is that they are really pushing government, so that we will respond to the people and deliver services. From my point of view, I think this will be addressed and we will speed up delivery."

However, the minister made no bones about the fact that violent demonstrations were unacceptable by government.

"We cannot allow anybody to use illegal means to achieve their objectives. Anything that is done must be done within the law and constitution," he told Talk Radio 702's John Robbie.

Earlier this week, President Jacob Zuma's spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said the President's view was that government was prepared to listen to people's concerns and to work with the people to address them. However, he said, there was no excuse for violence or destruction of property.