Roy Jankielsohn MPL
DA Leader in the Free State
The DA in the Free State would like to congratulate Madiba on his 94th birthday. We concur with Helen Zille’s statement that “Mandela’s name and legacy are synonymous with integrity, non-racialism, and selflessness.” We look forward to the day that this legacy is entrenched in the Free State.
While the country and the province celebrate Madiba’s birthday, residents of Marquard are calculating the damage after more violent protests in the Free State. Madiba’s greatest legacy is our constitutional democracy. Individuals who are unhappy with service delivery must realise that the best weapon in a democracy is your vote. Politicians do not confront unhappy residents, but send in the SAPS to do so. The only place to bring about positive changes is at the polls.
To vote for the ANC and then protest against those same ANC individuals that you voted for defeats the purpose of democracy. Poor service delivery and violent protests under a democratic constitution are a contradiction in terms. Residents have to begin to understand that our country’s constitution is their protection against that which they are pretesting against. The constitution is, however, only effective if our people are willing to implement it for their own benefit.
Residents of the Free State have legitimate reasons to protest against poor service delivery, overpaid and unqualified senior officials, and unresponsive ANC politicians. Protest action must however be targeted at those who are responsible for these problems. Foreigners, business owners, and municipal property should not be targeted and plundered during service delivery protests. Protests in which criminal activities take place lose their legitimacy and become a mere pretext for criminal acts such as malicious damage to property, theft, and assault.
The Free State is being plundered under the pretence of service delivery protests while the police observe. By now the SAPS should be aware of the tendency in the Free State for protest action to revert to plundering. For this reason the SAPS should be prepared to prevent such actions when they take place. The SAPS have been accused of observing such actions instead of preventing them, or taking action whilst they are taking place. The SAPS are not observers and have a responsibility to maintain law and order in our society. This responsibility involves protecting individuals, their property, as well as communal municipal property.
If such activities are allowed to continue, the Free State will fall into anarchy which will cause greater misery for individuals who are most vulnerable in our province. This is the vicious cycle that is caused by violent protests, an unresponsive government, and citizens who are not willing to put the constitution, which Madiba sacrificed so much for, into action.