Key Points:

  • Poor service delivery and the quality of governance in certain municipalities fuelled a wave of protests in 2004, spreading to other municipalities in most parts of the South Africa.
  • The main protagonists in the protests were unemployed people and school-age young people who referred to themselves as ‘Concerned Youth Groups’.
  • The main complaints of the protestors were the general condition of roads, high salaries of officials, poor service delivery, inefficient officials, dirty water, and the inappropriate spending of available funds, among others.
  • The sequence of events shows clearly that, while poor and insecure living conditions associated with poverty and unemployment provide a fertile ground for discontent, problems of governance, administration, and intergovernmental relations compound the potential for unrest.
  • These protests occur as citizens of this country have been in revolt against insensitive, unresponsive, and unaccountable political elites.