As the world celebrates Human Rights Day on 10 December, the United Democratic Movement (UDM) casts its eye on the effects of service delivery, or rather the lack thereof, on the people of South Africa, as well as the lag in infrastructure development and poor maintenance thereof. Not only does poor service delivery deprive people of their human rights, but their dignity too (and it is a constitutional violation to boot).

Almost three decades into our democracy and the majority of our people live in squalor in townships with the disparity between the leafy suburbs and the tin shacks and dusty streets is quite apparent. More potholes dot our roads, in some places, than there is road surface. Several rural communities share their water supply with animals or simply have no water at all.

Some children still must make use of the dangerous pit latrines at schools, and the Department of Education seems to be no closer eradicating this scourge. The country still has mud classrooms and in other instances, modern classrooms exist but are in bad condition. Not to mention that a large percentage of municipal residents do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities and in households within some formal areas, sanitation facilities do not meet the required standard due to crumbling infrastructure.

Our people are suffering due to the failures of the ruling party-led government. Corruption is at the order of the day, and this has a negative effect on service delivery as well. People complain about lazy officials and ineffective government departments, as well as inequality, and bad quality work from governmental contractors.

No wonder that we are in certain respects a disgruntled nation that feels as if the only way we can get the government to sit up and take notice of the service delivery issues in our communities, is to protest – and sometimes violently at that.

The demands of the ANC-led government for nigh on 30 years have been simple: water, adequate housing, sanitation, road repairs, and electricity. When South Africans are constitutionally entitled to have their basic needs met, is this too much to ask for?

The UDM believes it is not, and any responsible government would not place its party before itself, like the ANC has so unashamedly done.

The UDM believes an incumbent government must do more to promote increased efficiency and reduced wastage within the public service and to ensure improved service delivery (both essential and maintenance services) on the part of the public service that meets the basic needs of all South African citizens. In addition, it is critical to address the cancerous tumour of corruption, and not by applying ostrich politics as is the case at present.

Recognising that local government can play an immense role in service delivery, the UDM believes in the immediate implementation of a National Rescue Plan for Service Delivery and Development based on:
• Viable, sustainable and cost-effective service delivery.
• The immediate introduction of a three-year nationally driven programme to provide local government bureaucrats with capacity.
• Transforming local governments (government, civil society and business) into real agents for job creation and growth, as the underlying reason for unsustainability of current local governments is directly related to the inability of unemployed and poor people to pay for services.

The UDM wishes every South African well for tomorrow’s Human Rights Day celebration. Let us stand together in these coming months, as there is strength in unity, to go the forthcoming National and Provincial Elections to affect some changes to the political landscape in South Africa for the betterment of service delivery in this country.

Issued by:
UDM National Office
Mr Yongama