Service delivery protests dipped to a nine-year low in 2020 largely because of the national lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is according to the latest data by Municipal IQ, which specialises in local government data and collects information on service delivery protests.
The lockdown regulations prohibited public gatherings and the police were on high alert. Violent service delivery protests fell from 78% to 75%.
Major service delivery protests from 2004 to 2020
Service delivery protests in 2020 by province
Municipal IQ managing director Kevin Allan said decline was because of fewer protests from March to August, when lockdown was most pronounced, and “also when service delivery protests often spike.”
Heese added that the drop does mean residents are endorsing their local governments.
“A dip in 2020’s service delivery protests belies unhappiness seen on social media, with many citizens raising unhappiness with municipalities misappropriating Covid-support measures, as well as other more covert action like land invasions,” Heese said.
Municipal IQ believes service delivery protests are tied to the level of policing under the Covid-19 regulations.
“It has been seen in previous local government election years – should these continue later in the year – that service delivery protests fall, but there is no guarantee of this trend holding given the rising number of municipalities that find themselves financially and logistically stressed by the pandemic,” Heese said.
“In many instances the pressure on municipalities in these provinces was a function of a demand for housing and free basic services with community members displaced or compromised by a loss of income,” Municipal IQ economist Karen Heese said.