Service delivery since 1995 had not been the dismal failure many claimed, the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) said yesterday.
Releasing the results of a new survey, the SAIRR said service delivery numbers "discounted any argument that delivery had been an absolute failure".
"More than 4,4million households have received electricity connections since 1995, 4million received access to clean water, 2,1million to improved sanitation facilities and 2,5million to refuse removal facilities. In addition 2,5million more households live in formal housing, most of which was provided by the state," the survey said.
More than 10million South Africans also receive social grants from the state - up from 3million only six years ago. The institute said the successes suggested that relative deprivation, and not the failure of delivery, was behind the wave of delivery protests that had swept the country since 2006.
By relative deprivation, the institute suggested the government had been successful enough in demonstrating that it could deliver on its promises in certain areas - which had sparked protests in those areas which had not experienced such delivery. "In a sense, and no doubt quite controversially, it is true that the government is in this case a victim of its partial success," the institute said.
In Alexandra in Johannesburg and outside Zeerust in North West, people protested against RDP housing allocation delays.
In Zeerust people also complained about the lack of water supply.
Institute researcher Kerwin Lebone said government's delivery task had been complicated by "falling household sizes", which had added to existing delivery backlogs.
"We now have an average of three people living in a house, as opposed to five people, in the past. This has increased the demand for formal housing, as younger people want to live on their own. This increases service delivery demand".
He said average household size had fallen from 4,7 people to 3,7 people or by almost a quarter since 2005. "As a result, in many cases the increase in the proportion of households with access to services, had not risen at the same rate," Lebone said.
He said the proportion of households living in formal houses had remained largely constant at about 70percent since 1995, despite the massive increase in low-cost houses . - Sapa