MEDIA STATEMENT BY RAY NKONYENI MUNICIPALITY:
The RNM leadership together with Senior Management has met and reflected on recent protests within its area of jurisdiction.
During its sitting RNM noted that whilst there may be ‘other underlying’ influences on recent protests but slow pace on key service delivery aspects which relate to local, district and provincial spheres of government and the high level of lack of information remain the main causes. As a result, the municipality has resolved that more emphasis should be put on enhancing service delivery but it also mandated the Office of the Speaker to strengthen its systems of monitoring community engagements by the elected representatives, specifically by Councillors. It has appeared that most of the protests are as a result of communities who are not properly engaged especially on issues of service delivery or are not informed about progress on service delivery.
With that said, the RNM undoubtedly understands and appreciates the fact that “Everyone has a Right to Protest” but in the same token, is deeply concerned about the nature in which people practice this right. The right to protest is a vital way for people to speak out about issues that matter to them and make sure that people in power listen to their concerns. Section 17 of the Constitution says that everybody has the right to protest, peacefully and unarmed and this includes protests which are non-violent but very disruptive. This right is closely linked to other political rights in the Constitution, including freedom of expression and freedom of association (which means the right to associate with a cause, idea, or organisation). The law that regulates the right to protest is called the Regulation of Gatherings Act (some people call it “the Gatherings Act” or the RGA for short). The RGA says what protest organisers must do before the protest, what the protestors can and cannot do during the protest and what authorities can and cannot do before and during the protests.
Members of the community who are not satisfied with a certain service or complaining with anything should approach the responsible authority or if they decide to practice their right to protest are encouraged to do so in a responsible way and within the ambit of the law. Damage to property, intimidation and any form of violence during protests should be avoided at all costs.
Both the leadership and management commit that as we are at the dawn of the 6th administration in national and provincial government, our communities should also experience a new dawn that is characterised by action and more action in addressing the imbalances of the past.