Gwede Mantashe: South Africa's optimism will survive these protests

We believe recent events reflect local issues, not a wider national agenda

Share
Related Topics

President Jacob Zuma has drawn a line under recent violent protests in South Africa, not least by appointing a tough police commissioner, Bheki Cele, with a strong track record of fighting crime. He has also placed fighting poverty and crime at the top of the political agenda and reaffirmed the right of citizens to engage in peaceful protest in pursuance of their grievances.

It is because of this renewed sense of hope and empowerment that expectations have risen countrywide since the elections in April, and it is why the annual wage negotiations and heightened public awareness of the need to make local government accountable to the people have escalated into what appears to be a countrywide protest.

People are angry about the lack of service delivery over the past 15 years and they have a right to be – in some areas. But we must not lose sight of the huge progress that has been made with the provisions of clean water, electricity and housing throughout the country. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) will not be diverted from its programme to improve the lives of the poor even in times of recession. And we will also be at the forefront of managing the inevitable tensions between rising expectations, which are necessary, and the constraints imposed on government by the current recession and lower growth rates which are beyond our control.

The ANC is very clear that we have a great deal more work to do to improve the social conditions of people in our country. Perceptions of corruption and favouritism regarding tenders and employment frequently underlie the grievances. Often they are seen as corruption even when practices have not infringed any laws.

We see recent protests as rooted in local issues rather than reflecting a national agenda. Some of the protests have occurred in areas where basic services have been delivered. The ANC not only understands the problem but also has put in place mechanisms to deal with grievances, including the tackling of corruption.

Legislation is being debated which would bar public servants from involvement in other business ventures. We have met with the residents in most of the affected areas. In some areas, new water and sewerage infrastructure can be implemented only by moving shack dwellers from land allocated for the projects. This leads to anxiety and in the instance of Diepsloot, a high-density community north of Johannesburg, has led to protests.

We are determined to redress the developmental backlog we have inherited. But it is a matter of planning and budgeting and cannot be haphazard or achieved overnight. Our reality in South Africa is that urbanisation and the settlement of job-seekers in the urban centres is often not respectful of well laid out plans.

The recent labour strikes are an annual occurrence in our democracy. The ANC respects the rights of workers to declare disputes with employers and to strike if there is a deadlock. But we condemn in the strongest possible terms the violence that has accompanied some of the action. On appointing the new police commissioner, President Zuma both condemned the violence and insisted that those guilty of looting, trashing of streets, damaging property and attacks on individuals be arrested and charged.

The President has clearly indicated his resolve to maintain South Africa's vibrant economy in his first 100 days in office. He has delivered on his commitment to maintain the economic policies which have served the country well over the past 15 years. At the same time he has committed government to a social agenda aimed at achieving social cohesion alongside economic stability.

We are also mindful of the responsibility on our shoulders as a socio-economic microcosm of the world: if countries like South Africa, India and Brazil cannot develop a more equitable and sustainable system then humanity and as a whole is in trouble.

The ANC-led government has over the past 15 years made significant progress in transforming our economy and our society since the first democratic elections in 1994. South Africa is a developing country with immense potential: we are a democracy and a nation of people determined to succeed.

The author is the secretary-general of the African National Congress and chairman of the South African Communist Party

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: We are winning the fight against extreme poverty and hunger. It's time to up the ante

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
David Cameron addresses No campagn supporters in Aberdeen  

Scottish independence: Cameron faces a choice between destroying his country or his party

Matthew Norman
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week