SAIRR: Rising expectations lead to more violent uprisings

opstandRising expectations and youth unemployment have been identified as some of the sources of violent protests which have increased dramatically in the country in recent months.

The South African Institute of Race Relations, SAIRR’s programme manager and researcher, Georgina Alexander, says: “We have more people on social welfare at the moment in the country than those who have employment.”

In his State of the Nation Address last week, President Jacob Zuma promised on Thursday that South Africa would enter a new radical phase of accelerated socioeconomic transformation after the May election.

“More importantly, after the elections, the country will enter a new radical phase in which we shall implement socioeconomic transformation policies and programmes that will meaningfully address poverty, unemployment and inequality.

“It is a phase of focusing on economic transformation in particular. We have achieved political freedom, now we must achieve economic freedom and ensure that the ownership, management and control of the economy is deracialised further.

More needed to be done to advance blacks, he said.

“The number of black people and women in senior management has increased from less than 10% in the 1990s to over 40% today, which is a good achievement for the country. But it is not enough. Each year, the Employment Equity report releases statistics that indicate that the economy is still controlled by white South Africans in terms of senior and top management positions.

“We must therefore intensify the implementation of affirmative action policies in order to deepen reconciliation and social cohesion in our country,” Mr Zuma said.

Alexander says, “There is a threat that these protests will increase and become more violent. […] The government can see that the delivery protests are becoming more violent. They need to address the deeper causes of these service delivery protests.”

The deeper reasons for the protest lie in levels of youth unemployment and dependency on state as well as increasing rising expectations that people have, but it’s all directly reliant on the state to do something about it.

“This is just a spark, the deeper reasons for the protest lie in levels of youth unemployment and dependency on state as well as increasing rising expectations that people have, but it’s all directly reliant on the state to do something about it like to increase people’s living standard for them.”

Police officials and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) recently met to discuss the violent protests.

The SAHRC’s Danny Titus says, “The commissioner indicated to us that she would like to have a meeting next March with the Human Rights Commission focusing specifically on human rights and policing, and the number of issues around that.”

He says, “We would like to establish this relationship where we can make each other understand each other’s picture.”

Meanwhile, National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega says they are struggling to control violent protests because of a shortage of public order policing officers. There are only 4 000 such officers and yet there was double the number in 2006.