South Africa

Service Delivery Protest

Residents threaten to hold back vote if service delivery does not improve

Communities in the South of Johannesburg marched to the city's regional office on Monday morning demanding better delivery of services. With national government elections ahead, some residents have vowed to withhold their votes in protest against the slow pace of service delivery.

Residents from Orange Farm, Vlakfontein, Ennerdale and Lawley held a combined march to the City of Johannesburg’s regional offices to amplify their demands for better services in their areas, saying they would no longer put up with what they described as the City’s neglect of their areas.

Their grievances ranged from a lack of proper housing to constant power cuts, land invasions, and poor delivery of other basic services such as waste collection.

We are being taken for granted. People are going about their normal business some at their places of employment while we burn under this scorching sun. We don’t know what other language we should use because we are constantly ignored,” a protestor said.

A 17 year old pupil from Lawley, who missed school to join the march, said: “We have to study under candle light because the electricity connection is just a decoration as there are constant power cuts.”

Random electricity cuts were a major issue. Underdeveloped areas such as Lawley suffer constant power cuts that are blamed on theft of power cables and vandalism.

The electricity switches off at any time and without any notice being given,” Kabelo Molemo, a single mother from Lawley said. Molemo said they use candles for light and have to use gas or paraffin stoves to cook.

Sometimes we go three consecutive days without electricity,” she said. Molemo also highlighted the hardship of having to get children ready for school when there is no electricity.

Added Molemo: “We use cold water to bath them because we cannot always afford to use paraffin or gas.”

Many residents lamented the fact that officials will pretend to care now that elections are drawing near with some saying they would hold back their vote in a form of protests agains the poor service delivery in the area.

Sam Mtshali, 34, from Ennerdale said he was not going to vote for any political party because the Ennerdale community had been fighting crime and service delivery for years, and officials only pretended that they were listening when clearly they don’t care.

Vote who? Why? Nobody enjoys the scorching heat out here. We are not here because we don’t have better things to do. We are here because our lives are nothing without the basic services we have been asking for from the government all along. I will vote once my life improves. I don’t even have a job. Look around you. Do you see any development?” Mtshali said.

Added Mtshali: “When last did you hear that Ennerdale residents were benefitting from the government’s projects? Never, and the reason for this is simple, they simply don’t care for us. All they care about is re-election so that their stomachs remain full.”

A furious Mtshali said the only time he would be swayed by any of the parties will be when he sees improvements in the manner in which the government and the city of Johannesburg handle service delivery issues.

Lucky Bhengu from Lawley 2 said services were currently being delivered at a very slow pace and the reason he was marching today was because he wants government to allocate stand numbers to people living in shacks.

We want numbers that will be recognised by the government.We want the processes to speed up. The people’s hope is in the ANC,” said Bhengu.

The City was yet to comment on the march.

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