Linking service delivery and protest in South Africa: an exploration of evidence from Khayelitsha

06 May 2013

The notion of service delivery protests in South Africa has perhaps become a cliché in South Africa. While there was a lull in protest activity (excluding industrial action) in the first decade of democracy, the second decade has been characterised by increased militancy reminiscent of the anti-apartheid struggle days, with many of these diagnosed as so-called service delivery protests. To be sure, service delivery issues are often mentioned as part of a blend of issues that have caused the different communities to protest in media reports. The role of service delivery in the generation of these protests however has so far not been investigated directly. This article reports the results of a quantitative study using path analysis to investigate the strength of the claim of the link between service delivery and protests in Khayelitsha, one of the protest prone townships in Cape Town. The article concludes that that service delivery affects protests directly and indirectly through its impact on perceptions of service delivery, perception of condition of life and the attendance of meetings.