DISCONTENT: The aftermath of a protest in Alexandra against a lack of housing. Picture: MARTIN RHODES
DISCONTENT: The aftermath of a protest in Alexandra against a lack of housing. Picture: MARTIN RHODES

HUMAN Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale says the proliferation of service delivery protests the country has seen this year are a sign of brewing insurrection in the country.

Popular revolt, such as that which occurred at Lonmin’s Marikana mine, would continue as long as the government failed to meet the basic needs of the poor.

Speaking to Parliament’s portfolio committee on human settlements, Mr Sexwale said: "These are the symptoms of what insurrections are made of … this is a qualitative buildup (of insurrection). Soon there will be a quantitative build up. The water is rising, somewhere it is going to spill."

Mr Sexwale was appearing before the committee to present the results of a sanitation task team he established a year ago, following several exposés that municipalities had built toilets in the open, without walls or any form of privacy.

But in his opening remarks, Mr Sexwale said he had decided it was time to deliver a few "home truths" and speak frankly about the political situation.

The failure to eradicate the bucket system, for instance, which the report had found still to be pervasive, was something the democratic government had to take responsibility for itself.

"The task now rests with us … Marikanas will repeat themselves over and over until we crumble, if we don’t address the bucket system."

Government had also failed to grasp the implications of the service delivery protests and the police response to them, he inferred.

"When Andries Tatane was shot in front of us, we didn’t see it coming. Next poor policemen were butchering people," he said in reference to what happened at Marikana.

The government’s failure to do relatively simple things reflected contempt for the electorate, he said. "If you can’t deliver books, that are already printed, this is spitting in the face of people who elected you."

Mr Sexwale’s comments are the most forthright admission by a senior government minister that delivery failures are jeopardising the ANC’s standing.

With reference to the task team’s report on sanitation, Mr Sexwale said the team had visited 85 municipalities to examine sanitation problems. The report contained details of "sloppy work" as well as corruption, he said.

"Some of the things are associated with sloppy work by people who should have known better … some are because people had taken advantage of this government. They thought it was an ATM."

The full details of the report were not discussed in the committee as Mr Sexwale said the report would first be presented to the Cabinet.