Municipal service delivery 'falling far short': study

Residents forced to tackle problems head-on to keep their towns functioning

AfriForum members in Potchefstroom repainting streets in the town.
AfriForum members in Potchefstroom repainting streets in the town.
Image: Supplied

Trust in local municipalities to deliver basic services has dropped to a five-year low, as  measured against the latest SA Citizen Satisfaction Index.

The 2021 survey by Consulta measures satisfaction and trust in service delivery in eight category A municipalities — Buffalo City, Cape Town, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini, Johannesburg, Mangaung, Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane

“Of the eight metropolitan municipalities polled in the Citizen Satisfaction Index in 2021, it is clear they are falling far short of meeting citizens’ expectations, with the results being a direct reflection of the dire picture painted by many auditor-general and media reports of the dysfunctional state of many municipalities across the country,” a statement on the outcome of the survey said on Tuesday.

The total sample size was 2,537 and interviews were conducted online and telephonically during Q3 of 2021 across the metros.

Cape Town emerged as the leader in overall citizen satisfaction, while other metros performed either on or below par.

“The results show citizens’ expectations of local government delivery of services are very far from being met. The 10-point decline in citizen expectations compared with 2020 is a significant red flag. Lower expectations are typically the driver of drops in all other metrics of citizen satisfaction, including overall quality [perceived by the citizen] meeting their needs and reliability,” said Natasha Doren, senior consultant at Consulta.

“Overall, the below-par performance is driven by the widely held negative perception of reliability of services, many of which are teetering on or have collapsed in many local councils.”

Deron said issues driving satisfaction levels for residents were related to basics that underpinned the very existence of a municipality:

  • water supply and management;
  • electricity supply;
  • garbage and refuse disposal;
  • road maintenance;
  • clean streets and suburbs; and
  • reliable billing.

“These are the fundamentals of why local governments exist, yet these are the areas citizens most flag as their pain points,” said Doren.

“Local government structures are the only sphere of government in SA where our constitution stipulates a clear mandate: a functional body that ensures that citizens are provided with quality transport and roads; adequate spatial planning and housing; economic opportunities and development; essential services ranging from utilities to fire services as well as recreation; and an environment to work, live and thrive in.

“For millions of citizens, this mandate is nowhere close to being realised.”

Some of the findings dovetail with what residents in the North West have experienced and are tackling head-on to keep their towns functioning.

AfriForum’s local branch has spent more than R300,000 this year to fix potholes in Lichtenburg.

Spokesperson for the lobby group, Carina Bester, said more than 120 tonnes of tar have been used to fill potholes. The repairs were made possible by AfriForum members, community members and local businesses dipping into their pockets and rolling up their sleeves to carry out the work.

In Rustenburg, the organisation’s local branch has launched a project featuring a team cleaning up areas. “During the project, the grass on sidewalks and open spaces are cut, and garbage is removed in these areas,” she said.

Bester said AfriForum’s branch in Potchefstroom repainted street signs in September.

“Members of the local branch and the community group Trots Potch cleaned a park and the area around a mall during which 15 bags of garbage were removed. The AfriForum branch also replaced two stop signs and fixed potholes with 410 bags of tar.”


Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.