With frustration, disappointment and desperation growing day by day and spilling over into peaceful and violent service delivery protests, when will the government take heed? Does it take a multimillion-rand company leaving an area after years of service delivery issues for local government to finally spring into action, as is the case with the Clover factory now moving its operations from Lichtenburg in the North West to Queensburgh in eThekwini? Are the voices of their constituents not enough? Is their oath to “solemnly promise to perform [their] functions and duties as a councillor of [municipality] to the best of my ability”, as well as their constitutional mandate to “promote a safe and healthy environment”, not enough for them to take action and develop functioning municipalities fit to live in?
The demands are simple – water, housing, sanitation, road repairs, electricity and street lighting. Are these too much to ask for, when people living in SA are constitutionally entitled to have their basic needs met?
At Amnesty International SA (AISA), we went back to basics to ask ourselves why service delivery is important. The answers are: to live a life with dignity; to live in a safe environment; for people to access and realise their basic human rights enshrined in international and national legislation; to reduce poverty; to raise the living standards of the poor majority; and for greater equality.
While this is not an exhaustive list by any means, it is for these reasons (and more) that we must remind duty bearers that not only do they have a constitutional mandate to uphold in providing effective service delivery, but a moral and ethical one too.
Local government officials must take their oath seriously and fulfil their constitutional mandate to provide basic human rights and services, such as housing, water and sanitation, so that all who live in SA can live a life of dignity, equality and safety.