Government has blinkers on when it comes to the consequences of poor service delivery, particularly at local government level. Disingenuous representatives of government stand on their soapboxes shouting that they are doing their jobs. Judging by the volcano of protests against poor service delivery that erupts every now and again in all corners of the country, this is patently untrue.

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) is of the view that government either willfully downplays incidents or meets service delivery protests with vicious action using its security organs to silence any dissenting voice. To add insult to injury the ANC brotherhood instantly closes ranks when it comes to criticism levelled at them – even if it is constructive criticism.

Much of the civil disobedience we see is a symptom of poor service delivery and it also is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, one can hardly blame a frustrated citizenry – who have no water, electricity, etc. – when they demonstrate and protest. On the other hand, where does one draw the line? We after all do not live in a lawless society and those who break the law must be arrested, make their cases in court and accept the judgements if they are guilty.

One can philosophise indefinitely, but there is a fine balance between action and reaction and once the precedence of unmitigated violence has been established it spirals out of control and becomes the norm. What however boggles the mind is: why does government (at all three tiers) refuse to see this and intervene timeously, or even better, do their jobs right in the first instance?

It is statements such as “…we don’t know how long the committee will take…” (after Ekurhuleni Mayor Mondli Gungubele announced an audit into Daveyton residents’ housing complaints) that elicits chaos. The problems should have been proactively addressed and the mayor should have had his answers ready.

Media Statement by Mr Bongani Msomi, UDM Secretary General