The Mpumalanga government is being forced to re-prioritise its budget in the wake of service delivery protests. It’s going to cost millions to replace or repair infrastructure damaged during the protests.
Protests are causing chaos in parts of the province with locals demanding housing, electricity and water among other things.
Some communities torched schools deemed old and unsafe for occupation.
Municipal offices are damaged and public works machinery were also set alight. Now that government has met initial demands, locals bear the brunt in the aftermath of the protests.
“We are suffering now because we have to take a taxi to town and it’s expensive. May our people stop destroying public property to voice out their concerns,” says one local resident.
“It’s two fold. It is their right to protest and demand services, but destroying infrastructure is only taking us backwards,” adds another resident.
Funds budgeted for developmental projects are being re-directed to repair infrastructure. This is delaying the improvement of service delivery.
“It would cost the government about R30 million to fix a school that has been burnt down by a community, money that has not been budgeted for. If they burn down a library we have to take money that was budgeted for another community and use it to repair or rebuild a library that has been destroyed by members of the public. It is working the government backwards,” says Mpumalanga MEC for the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Eric Kholwane.
Government is pleading with communities to protect public buildings in their respective communities.