Monday, 24 August 2009

Service delivery protests rock South Afrcia

Residents of Thokoza, Johannesburg demand better lives. Photo: Shayne Robinson, The Star. Found here.
Protests about the delivery and cost of services such as housing, water and electricity, living conditions in poor / working class communities and strikes by council workers have rocked South Africa over the past few months. UNITYblog interviewed Claire Ceruti, editor of South African socialist magazine Socialism From Below about the protests. Claire also provided us with the following article by Alan Goatley. When and why did these protests start? Who is protesting and what are they protesting for? The details of each protest differed. Some were organised by local ANC branches, some by local organisations with no political affiliation. But in general the protests took place in poorer parts of South African townships. The general demands are for electricity, water and better living conditions. For example in the area of Thokoza hit by the protests, people are still using ‘long drop’ toilets [hole in the ground]. Women there told us that before the protests, children dumped a puppy into one of the toilets. They fear a child could be next. Behind this is a deeper feeling of having been left out. Some protestors spoke of a sense of being neglected by their local councillors despite having voted in elections since 1994. The timing of the elections is related to the election of a new president, Jacob Zuma, who is widely believed to represent a shift to the left in the ruling African National Congress, or at least to be beholden to the communist party and the trade unions. His election raised expectations for change and increased people’s confidence to take to the streets, partly because they hope this government will side with them. Usually the target of the protest is not Zuma but local government.

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