Gov­ern­ment Spokesper­sons Can Quell Ser­vice De­liv­ery Protests

The undis­cern­ing and ill-trained gov­ern­ment spokesper­sons could be one of the rea­sons be­hind the surge of ser­vice de­liv­ery protests, writes Maropeng Manyathela.

Mmileng - - Contents -

South Africa, to­day, is char­ac­terised by a dis­turb­ing trend of com­mu­ni­ties us­ing ser­vice de­liv­ery protests as their ad­vo­cacy tool to ex­press dis­sat­is­fac­tion with gov­ern­ment at var­i­ous lev­els.

The idea of mak­ing the coun­try un­govern­able as a way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing ser­vice de­liv­ery griev­ances re­mains South Africa’s new and com­plex de­vel­op­men­tal chal­lenge. Nat­u­rally, protests present a real threat to na­tional se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity.

These com­mu­ni­ties are in­creas­ingly re­sort­ing to protests to ex­press dis­sat­is­fac­tion about the in­abil­ity of gov­ern­ment to de­liver ba­sic ser­vices like water, elec­tric­ity, houses, se­cu­rity, roads etc.

There is no doubt that ser­vice de­liv­ery protests have es­ca­lated in preva­lence and sever­ity over the last 10 years.

Be­tween 2009 and 2016, more than 10 000 ser­vice de­liv­ery protests were recorded across the coun­try. In 2009, 1500 ser­vice de­liv­ery protests were wit­nessed (Sta­tis­tics South Africa, 2017). The num­ber sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased by 30% in 2010. The cases fur­ther surged to 2700 in 2011. In 2013 alone, re­ported in­ci­dences of ser­vice de­liv­ery protests rose to 3100 across the coun­try. Be­tween 2015 and 2016, 4500 ser­vice de­liv­ery protest cases were recorded (Stat­sSA, 2017).

The lead­ing role which can be played by gov­ern­ment spokesper­sons in min­imis­ing ser­vice protests by dis­grun­tled com­mu­ni­ties need to be ex­haus­tively in­ter­ro­gated to dis­cover ap­pro­pri­ate ways to ef­fec­tively ad­dress these grow­ing chal­lenges.

By any stan­dard, South Africa’s ser­vice de­liv­ery protest fig­ures are stub­bornly high and wor­ri­some.

These neg­a­tive de­vel­op­ments should be seen by gov­ern­ment spokesper­sons as a chal­lenge to cor­rectly and prop­erly chan­nel their in­for­ma­tion dis­sem­i­na­tion skills and en­er­gies to­wards min­imis­ing the surge of ser­vice de­liv­ery protests wit­nessed in South Africa in the past decade.

The surge of ser­vice de­liv­ery protests can be sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced if gov­ern­ment spokesper­sons proac­tively en­gage, in­form and up­date dis­sat­is­fied com­mu­ni­ties on is­sues of con­cern. Gov­ern­ment spokesper­sons are the link be­tween protest­ing com­mu­ni­ties and their re­spec­tive gov­ern­ment depart­ments.

The undis­cern­ing and ill-trained gov­ern­ment spokesper­sons could be one of the rea­sons be­hind the surge of ser­vice de­liv­ery protests.

A spokesper­sons’ deep un­der­stand­ing of South Africa’s evolv­ing ser­vice de­liv­ery en­vi­ron­ment put them in a bet­ter po­si­tion to ap­pro­pri­ately ar­tic­u­late po­si­tions of gov­ern­ment for their vi­tal role to add value in min­imis­ing the coun­try’s un­end­ing protests.


Maropeng Manyathela

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