Protests are not the panacea to lack of service delivery

There has been a rise in service delivery protests over the last couple of years. Official police statistics show that over the past 4 years there have been over 3000 service delivery protests in South Africa.  A monitoring agency, Municipal IQ, recorded 410 “major service delivery protests” between 2009 and 2012.

This is a sign of two things: that, firstly, citizens are tired of the status quo, and require change. Secondly, that they want to hold to account those they elected into power.

But the question is whether these protests are the most effective way of changing things? Do they change the status quo? Are they effective? If not, what are the effective ways to challenge the government, and to ensure that the government, at all levels, is held accountable?

Service delivery protests are but one, noticeable action. They may work to change some issues, but are they effective to make a lasting and sustainable change, and help build a culture of accountability within communities and government?