Panelists and delegates at the DDP/ IEC Seminar hosted at DDP on March 30 2021.
Service delivery protests originated during the apartheid era in South Africa as they were used as strategies to express dissatisfaction with the lack of services as well as target ethnically based structures (Reddy, 2016). This was an era where elections were not inclusive and only certain racial groups where allowed to vote. This perhaps is why the perception of “voting helps and protest works” comes from. Service Delivery in the context of South Africans is the provision of basic needs to local communities such as water, electricity, sanitation, refuse removal and land management.
We need to ask ourselves if these protests are used to demonstrate the genuine dissatisfaction of communities with the basic services that their local Municipality is providing. Or to compromise the integrity of an election?
The IEC thrives for maximum voter participation as this will reflect what is expressed in the ballot box by the majority of South African citizens. The community at large need to be educated on the processes that are involved in the completion of projects that are aligned to the service delivery issues that they encounter and understand the steps to be followed in raising issues and following up on the progress of those issues, which will eliminate the need for a protest.
The decline of service delivery protests is the rise of voter turnout and the rise of many voices that have been earmarked for many years in South Africa.
It is against this background that the DDP in partnership with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) hosted a seminar on 30 March 2021 to unpack this narrative. The event was held at the DDP Seminar room and was live on Zoom and had an in-person panel of expects including Civil Society Veteran and Director at ASEFSA Sthembiso Madlala.