Monday, 24 January 2011

Survey: Service delivery failure a myth

While given the current context as demonstrated by my previous post, this might prove counter productove to my current agenda, I've never let a good story stand in the way of truth.

From here.

Adriaan Basson

Johannesburg - A new survey, which will be ­released this week, challenges the “widely held” belief that the ANC government has failed to deliver basic services since coming into power in 1994.

Data published by the South ­African Institute of Race Relations indicate the following:

» The number of households ­living in brick houses has ­increased from 5.7 million to 10.4 million - an 80% hike - between 1996 and 2009;

» The number of households ­using electricity increased by 120% over the same period;

» At least 130% more households were using electricity to cook in 2009 than in 1996; and

» In the same period, the number of households with access to piped water rose by 71%.

According to the institute’s ­deputy CEO, Frans Cronje, the ­research seriously challenges the “refrain that is repeated week in and week out in South Africa - that service delivery has failed”.

The data compares living ­standard levels over 13 years - ­between 1996 and 2009.


“Without exception, the data demonstrate significant improvements across almost every living conditions indicator,” says ­Cronje.

This is despite “widespread agreement” between the media, government, the ANC, opposition parties, business, trade unions, civil society and academia that service delivery has failed.

“Hence the government and the ANC’s promise that they will ‘fix failing service delivery’.”

Over the 13-year period under review, the number of households in South Africa increased from more than 9 million to 13.8 million – or by 52%.

“This was a significant new ­burden on the state, in addition to inherited apartheid-era backlogs.

In part, the new burden resulted from a 22% decline in average household size, which few ­observers anticipated or identified,” says Cronje.

In 1996, the average size of a household was 4.6 people and by 2009 that figure had fallen to 3.6 people.

According to Cronje, the country has seen “much improvement in the living standards of its ­people, arguably now reaching their highest ever levels”.

Informal settlements

He has three explanations for a surge in service delivery protests, despite considerable progress having been made:

» Significant demands still need to be met, with just under 2 million households still living in informal settlements;

» Relative deprivation. Communities without services have ­noticed the government’s ability to supply such services in neighbouring communities; and

» Service delivery will forever be “a moving target”. Government will never be able to meet the ­demand for “continually improving standards of living”.

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