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'Poor communities want change now'

Poor communities want to see change now, according to a study by the University of Johannesburg.

FILE: Protesters in Hebron blocked major roads with rocks and burned tyres during service delivery protests on 7 February 2014. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Poor communities want to see change now, according to a study by the University of Johannesburg.

The research titled South Africa's Rebellion of the Poor, based on 250 interviews and data from four media sources, was conducted by the University of Johannesburg.

The research found that long-term changes are needed to curb protests in South Africa.

The country has been rocked by violent service delivery protests in the past few months.

In January alone, at least 10 people were killed when police allegedly started shooting at protesters.

The university's Doctor Carin Runciman told 567 CapeTalk that people are tired of talking.

"What our research shows is that for a long time now people have engaged in processes of public consultation and got nowhere. People no longer want to talk about change, they want to see change."

She says the country needs institutional reforms to curb protests.

"We need effective ways in which people can participate in determining how services are delivered to their areas. For instance, we had government building a bridge over a main road which is a good idea. But people felt the burning issue in the area was that they didn't have water."

Runciman says municipal workers are also concerned about service delivery protests.

"We came across a number of people working in municipalities who are deeply concerned with what is going on in poor communities. Our research doesn't go deeper into what skills are needed within municipalities."

She says there are no quick fixes.

"I think we need to go back to the dawn of democracy and what most people believed they were voting for in those first elections. And that was the far more radical redistribution of wealth in South Africa. I think we need to think about how basic services have been in many ways privatised and as a result they no longer serve the needs of people, they serve the needs of profit."