The African National Congress (ANC) disputed predictions by political analyst Moeletsi Mbeki that the South African government would face a Tunisia-style revolt, on the same day police fired live ammunition to disperse residents who took to the streets over poor service delivery in Mpumalanga.
The latest protest comes as President Jacob Zuma's government grapples with the country's jobs crisis, and experts warn that public protests could become a regular feature of South African politics.
Municipal IQ, a Johannesburg- based company that researches local government trends, said public service protests were increasingly becoming a tool used by citizens disappointed with government performance. Last year saw a record number of marches as citizens sought a way of being heard.
The protests were growing into a "socio political phenomenon", with 111 recorded across municipalities last year, according to Municipal IQ. There were 105 recorded in 2009, while there were 10 in 2004 when monitoring of the protests began.
South African Local Government Association spokesperson Milisa Kentane said that there may be more in the build-up to the local government elections later this year, but these were likely to be about councillor nominations rather than service delivery.
Mr Mbeki predicted in an opinion piece published in Business Day last week that SA would face a civil revolt around 2020, when the government would no longer be in a position to sustain the welfare programmes "it uses to placate the black poor and to get their votes".
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He said the local economy depended on China's minerals-intensive industrialisation, which would end around 2020.
ANC spokesperson Brian Sokutu hit back at Mr Mbeki's claims. "Our fledgling constitutional democracy , which continues to make inroads in redressing decades of apartheid, cannot be equated with tyranny or stagnation in our growing economy, as Moeletsi insinuates."
SA had a stable democracy, with a number of bodies that supported it, like the Office of the Public Protector and the Human Rights Commission, Mr Sokutu said.
Mr Mbeki retorted that "people don't eat democracy".
Steven Friedman, director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, said a change of government was possible, but that would be done through the ballot. He said the ANC enjoyed a "great deal" of legitimacy despite the anger of those who demonstrated.
Udesh Pillay, executive director at the Human Sciences Research Council, said conventional ways of engaging the state were still working, but people could revolt should they feel they were not being heard.
In Mpumalanga on Tuesday, police used live ammunition in an attempt to quell protests at the Wesselton informal settlement, near Ermelo, where residents have been protesting since Monday over service delivery. Dozens of protesters were taken into custody in Ermelo after they burned tyres and threw stones at vehicles.