Stats show protests could intensify even more after. The organisation collected data on service delivery protests staged against municipalities on its Municipal Hotspots Monitor and found 237 protests had taken place in 2018 – the highest number recorded since 2005.
Protest action this year may be spurred to an even higher level, according to a data analysis by Municipal IQ, a specialised local government data and intelligence organisation.
Last year was the year with the most protests in the last decade.
Municipal IQ managing director Kevin Allen said: “2014 was the last general election – it remains to be seen whether 2019’s elections will spur protests to an even higher level.”
He added that last year had already eclipsed previous annual records for service delivery protests by the end of September. The year 2014 had the second highest number of protests, at 191 protests recorded, and 2012 and 2017 tied with 173 protests.
According to the data, between 2004 and 2018, Gauteng has tended to be the major site for service delivery protests – on average accounting for 24% of protests over this period and reaching 34% in 2017.
But this changed last year with the Eastern Cape coming in first with 20%, the Western Cape’s protests accounted for 17% and Gauteng contributed 16% of all protests.
Municipal IQ economist Karen Hess said dual economic pressures of a recessionary environment and rising unemployment seemed to be feeding into service delivery protests. Political campaigning could be fuel for more protests in an election year.
“General elections often seem to accelerate protests – possibly because of unrealistic broad promises made while politicians campaign, as well as discontent resulting from national/provincial/local factionalism. Local elections, by contrast, subdue protests because politicians focus on local issues.”
Hess said protests ranged from peaceful marches, roadblocks and arson attacks to shutdowns, adding that communities in outlying areas were more inclined to shut down regional roads to capture attention.
“Over the course of 2018, a growing number of protest grievances included the demand for municipalities to create employment opportunities, or unhappiness with how these were allocated.
“It can be concluded that it is crucially important for reinvigorated and equitable economic growth to mitigate the social and financial pressures manifested in many service delivery protests.”
Hess said the violence and destruction associated with protests was fairly complex, “but broadly because of a sense of frustration and marginalisation as well as, perhaps, an escalating need to grab headlines over other protests”.
Source: IOL News