President Cyril Ramaphosa says government has adopted a multi-disciplinary and systemic approach to tackle service delivery protests.
The President said this when he fielded oral questions in the National Assembly on Tuesday.
United Democratic Movement (UDM) President Bantu Holomisa had asked the President whether, with the recurrence of violent service delivery protests, where anger is directed at the local sphere, he had any plans to coordinate the entire government machinery to visit affected communities to present them with detailed responses to their concerns.
“If we are to effectively address the causes of community protests and improve the conditions under which people in these communities live, it is necessary to proceed in a systematic manner.
“It is necessary to ensure intergovernmental alignment since the issues at hand cut across national, provincial and local competencies.
“At the same time, it is necessary for public representatives – including MPs and Ministers – to engage with communities on an ongoing basis to ensure that their needs and concerns are being addressed,” he said.
The President said there are several reasons that spark community protests - ranging from local service delivery failures to broader concerns around crime, municipal demarcation, corruption and failure of governance.
He said most of these protests - both those that are peaceful and those that turn violent - reflect the severe weaknesses in local governance, poor consultation with communities, and a perceived distance between communities and their public representatives at all levels.
“It is necessary to address the causes of these protests in an integrated and comprehensive manner.
“This is why national government is working with provincial and local government to improve the delivery of services, build and maintain municipal infrastructure and strengthen financial and other areas of governance.”
President Ramaphosa said to ensure a systematic response to the causes of violent protests, government has established an inter-ministerial task team on service delivery integration and alignment.
The team, he said, includes a number of ministries that have an impact on local government.
He said the inter-ministerial task team has adopted an approach to enhance integrated planning budgeting and implementation of service delivery programmes in 57 municipalities.
“These include the eight metropolitan municipalities, 43 local municipalities and six priority district municipalities.
“Together, these municipalities account for over 87% of all households living in informal settlements or backyard dwellings.
“They also constitute over half of all service delivery backlogs and have the greatest number of recorded service delivery protests.
“A set of strategies and action plans are being developed to focus on the short, medium and long-term interventions in these 57 pilot municipalities.”
The work of the Inter-Ministerial Task Team is being supported by a programme management office located at the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA).
This office draws directly on the MISA technical team of professional engineers and planners, as well as professionals from national and provincial sector departments. – SAnews.gov.za