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.
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.
“BY ANY STANDARD, SOUTH AFRICA’S SERVICE DELIVERY PROTEST FIGURES ARE STUBBORNLY HIGH AND WORRISOME.